“Our thoughts are first and foremost with the families,” says Ola Sæter, executive vice president responsible for the Energy business area, following the fatal cave-in Saturday at Hydro’s power plant in western Norway. Two persons lost their lives in the accident.
When notified of the accident at the Røldal-Suldal plant on Saturday, Sæter traveled immediately from Oslo to Røldal to be on hand for the involved and for the power plant employees, as well as assist in the search action for the person still missing at the site in Odda.
Early Sunday morning, local police changed the status of the search from for a missing person to a fatality. It had become clear that the cave-in of rocks in the tunnel had claimed both workers’ lives, one an employee of Veidekke Entreprenør and the other a subcontractor. Both were working on repairs to the tunnel at the behest of Hydro.
“This is a tragic accident that has occurred here at one of Hydro’s power stations. The most important thing now is to express my – and our – deepest sympathies with the next of kin,” says Sæter.
One of the workers was found soon after the cave-in at about 14.00 Saturday. In the hours that followed, a search was mounted under difficult conditions for the second worker in the tunnel.
“We had hoped to find the other person alive, but the police concluded early Sunday morning to change the status of the search to one for a fatality,” he says.
“The work being undertaken was well-planned repairs where a cave-in had occurred about a year ago. Hydro takes safety very seriously. Before the tunnel work began, Hydro undertook a thorough evaluation of what was to be done. What happened absolutely should not have happened – with fatal results.”
In addition to assisting the police, Hydro has established its own investigation of the accident to ensure that all aspects of the accident come to light.
“What happened, and what went wrong, we just don’t know right now. That will be the task of the investigation. Regardless of the reasons why, our thoughts go out to the next of kin and colleagues,” Sæter says.
A crisis center has been established at the power station and telephone contacts have been set up for family and friends.