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New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board turbine leaking oil

May 21, 2023May 21, 2023

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A turbine used by the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board is spewing oil, damaging nearby residents' properties, according to neighbors on Spruce Street.

Turbine 5, which was built in the 1960s, is being used to pump water pumps and drainage pumps 24/7.

Residents have complained of damage from the oil to their cars and homes.

"I loved to be outside," said Johnny Wilson. "And I can't come outside like I used to come outside. I used to come out here early in the morning, sit out and drink a cup of coffee. I can't do that anymore."

The Sewerage and Water Board said in an issued statement that it is working with General Electric to fix the issue.

The utility is also working with insurance firms for any damage claims made by residents.

You can view the entire statement from the Sewerage and Water Board below:

"The Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans (SWBNO) continues to be engaged with General Electric (GE) Gas and Power, the manufacturer of Turbine 5, to perform an engineering analysis and design and supply a knock-down tank for their vapor extractor, which will hopefully mitigate the issue. We also remain committed to updating and working with our neighbors, our insurance services firm, our Environmental Team, and our regulators to further investigate and facilitate any claims or concerns.

"Turbine 5 was installed in 1963 and there are very few turbines of this type in use today. Therefore, GE is extensively researching their archives and will also perform laser scanning of the various components of the vapor extraction system.

"It's important to note that either Turbine 5 or Turbine 4 is required to be always online at SWBNO to provide power for 25-hz potable water pumps and drainage pumps; these turbines are the only methods that can provide 25-hz electricity for these pumps. With Turbine 4 currently unavailable, Turbine 5 is in constant duty – even during dry weather conditions.

"SWBNO received correspondence from local neighbors regarding new oil droplets on April 9, 2023. We continue to proceed with solutions under the assumption that what is being observed by our neighbors is residual oil emitted from the exhaust stack of Turbine 5. However, the exact cause is unknown, as it appears to be intermittent.

"Prior to April 3, 2023, Turbine 5 was last used on March 28, 2023, for a short duration during a rain event. Again, running Turbine 5 on a constant basis is a recent change to our operations, but a necessary one.

"In addition to operating the potable water pumps, these 25-hertz turbines (Turbine 5 and 4) remain critical to sustaining water pumping and drainage operations and will continue to be utilized on a rotational basis until new Power Complex is operational, which will be at the end of 2024."