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First offshore wind farm has welding, safety issues

Welding and safety issues have been detected with the construction of the first U.S. offshore wind farm, and regulators are monitoring its construction. Meanwhile, the government has issued leases for more wind farms, one or two of which could be built off the coast of New Jersey.

The Block Island Wind Farm is being built in state waters off the coast of Rhode Island. Construction of the five-turbine farm started in July, and it is projected to provide power for 17,000 homes before the beginning of 2017. However, inspections have identified several safety and health issues.

According to one report, there have been personnel working under loads that are suspended in the air, narrow misses with dropped objects, repeat failures with rigging equipment and old cranes used that are ill-suited for the environment. The Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council executive director reported that two cranes slammed into each other during night work, and one of the foundations in the water was dented with a construction barge. Additionally, there were no weld maps to trace potential problems, voltmeters were broken, and drawings and procedures were unavailable on board.

The CRMC representative says that all of the safety issues were addressed with Deepwater Wind, the construction company. Safety personnel are stationed on every barge, and the company has adopted numerous safety recommendations. It has also installed five steel foundations at the bottom of the sea. No problems have been identified with the welds, he noted.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government has announced nine wind project leases for federal waters. It is expected to auction one or two leases for offshore New Jersey locations in November. During any type of construction, it is vital that companies implement safety guidelines to prevent their workers from becoming injured. Workers who are injured at work even when those guidelines are followed may want to meet with an attorney to see if they are eligible to receive workers' compensation benefits.

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