Generator for New Orleans drainage pumps explodes, injures 2

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — An explosion at an electrical generating plant that powers New Orleans’ drainage system injured two people and rattled windows in nearby neighborhoods.

The New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board said the explosion took place Saturday afternoon at its main water plant on the western edge of the city.

Two people were taken to a hospital, New Orleans Emergency Medical Services reported on Twitter, while a third person refused treatment. Injuries were described as minor.

The power plant generates electricity to drive the massive pumps that drain the Louisiana city when it rains. Because the city is surrounded by levees and parts are below sea level, rainwater must be pumped out to prevent flooding. Some of the pumps are so old that they require a special frequency of electricity.

The turbine where the explosion occurred was built in 1958. It was offline for about a year before returning to service in March 2018. The city experienced heavy rainfall flooding in August 2017 at a time when a number of pumps couldn’t run because generator turbines were down. The city spent more than $80 million on emergency repairs following the flood.

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