Risks: Auckland, New Zealand has no power.

I Find Karma (adam@cs.caltech.edu)
Mon, 23 Feb 1998 15:19:43 -0800

[SeeN on the GeeK list]

> Date: Mon, 23 Feb 1998 10:52:28 -0500 (EST)
> From: shafferz@umich.edu
> Subject: GeeK: no power in aukland

Check out his letter from peter gutmann. There is no power at all in
the whole city of Auckland, New Zealand. This is a BIG deal, Auckland
is one of the biggest cities in New Zealand, with around one third of
the country's population and is central to many commercial and financial

From: Peter Gutmann <pgut001@cs.auckland.ac.nz>
Newsgroups: sci.crypt.research,comp.compression.research
Subject: No postings for at least a week

There won't be any postings to this group for at least a week due to the
fact that the university (and most of the cities central business
district) is closed due to lack of power. Any submissions to the group
and/or mail to me will bounce with a host unreachable/undeliverable mail
error due to the fact that nothing here has power. Hopefully power will
be restored in about a week, but it could take longer than that (the
worst-case estimates are as long as a month - there should eventually be
one or more comp.risks articles giving more detail).

In brief: The city of Auckland has its power provided by Mercury Energy,
who have four 110kV lines feeding the central business district. Two of
the cables have copper conductors inside a pressurized nitrogen jacket
(apparently we're one of the few countries which use these), two are
oil-filled. The cables are 25 and 50 years old with an overall life
expectancy of 60 years, the suspicion is that the El Nino summer has
dried out and heated the ground so that vibration and ground movement
(shrinkage) have damaged the cables.

Because of this, all the cables have failed, leaving the central city
without power. So far this has affected (at various times) a number of
banking data centres (the first day the power went out was on the
Thursday when everyones pay is supposed to be processed - the data
centres themselves have generators, but the sources feeding them
information don't), the stock exchange, the Auckland central post office
buildings, customs and immigration, some sections of inland revenue,
Aucklands main hospital and medical school complex (they have
generators, but one of them failed, leaving the childrens hospital
without power), the university, and God knows what else (many of these
places have generators, but there were apparently glitches in switching
over and one or two breakdowns which have caused problems).



It can't rain all the time.
-- The Crow