Tuesday 10 December, 2019

Hampton pumping station floor collapses, no one injured

Minister Wilfred Abrahams (FILE)

Minister Wilfred Abrahams (FILE)

Tragedy struck today while employees of the Barbados Water Authority were working to bring the Hampton Pumping Station back online completely to service areas of Christ Church.

Thankfully, according to the Minister of Water Resources Wilfred Abrahams, no one was injured when the floor of the station collapsed about two hours ago.

Speaking during a post-Cabinet meeting at Government Headquarters along Bay Street, Abrahams said that technicians were in the well and on top and around when the collapse occurred but somehow none were hurt. 

“The Hampton station was pretty much the last of the pumping stations that we were trying to get online to restore capacity I believe to the Durants area and other areas in Christ Church along that corridor that we’re complaining, about an hour and a half ago, two hours ago, we had a major issue at the Hampton Pumping Station. The floor at the station collapsed and there were some men in the well at the same time on harnesses. They were persons above the well. Due to the safety measures and safety precautions that we have with people wearing harnesses, no one was injured.”

Recognising the series of unfortunate events plaguing the utility companies on island over the past four days, he said that the hope was to put four million gallons of water back into distribution over the next 24 hours by way of the Hampton station, but now that is not an option anymore.

He said: “When it rains it pours, no pun intended.”

However, despite the situation, the Minister asserted that he will not compromise the safety of workers and instructed the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) personnel not to try being heroic.

He declared:

“I told [BWA General Manager] Mr [Keithroy] Halliday do not send a fella into that well or around that situation or try to engineer or collifox anything if it would put that person at risk.”

Abrahams commended the staff who were on site though for their quick thinking and ingenuity as well as their calmness in spite of the tragedy. They kept level heads according to the Minister and they stopped the pumps from actually falling in the well.

He commended those persons from “preventing what could have been a major issue.”

He told the public the Hampton Station that was operating at half capacity and which BWA was hoping to have back to full capacity to resume its full service by Friday is now out of commission somewhat.

Abrahams assured: “We are trying to make the best out of a bad situation.”

He said that efforts are on to determine if pumping can resume or if some pumping capacity can be restored, but he insisted: “Safety first at this point!

“I would love to give water and restore full capacity to that pumping station by today that is likely to be impossible. I’m not going to endanger the life of any person working at the Barbados Water Authority to save a couple hours.”

He said the 10 trucks in rotation will be dispersed to attend to the needs of those being impacted, and they will try to also divert water from other sources to them. “We are doing the best we can. It is a most unfortunate circumstance.”

And he is awaiting a report from the engineers currently. But in the interim he proposed that they will try to find solutions that allow pumping at the station such as recasting the floor.

“We are going to do the best we can, but we are not going to risk anybody’s life to do it.”

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