Lights Out at Caribou

by Marion Hart, Asst. Ed.; Civil Engineering—ASCE, New York, NY 10017,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1987, Vol. 57, Issue 7, Pg. 46-48

Document Type: Feature article


The Caribou powerplant restoration is one of the projects to receive an Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award of Merit. On February 24, 1984 a rock slide on the ridge above the Pacific Gas & Electric Caribou (PG&E) powerplants occurred severely damaging the Caribou no. 2 powerhouse, its 230 kV switchyard and nearby facilities. Several local transmission and distribution lines were also knocked out of service by the slide. 40,000 gallons of oil contained in equipment sitting in the rock slide's path spilled into the switchyard area and into the reservoir. Because some of the oil contained PCB, PG&E had to find a way to permanently dispose of a toxic oil spill. The restoration work included building a new penstock, rechannelling the Feather River water supply to the Caribou powerplant; installing a new 267,000 lb transformer and new switchyard and powerhouse equipment and removing the PCB contaminated soil from the Forebay reservoir and the switchyard area. The total restoration and reconstruction effort took 36 months.

Subject Headings: Power plants | Hazardous materials spills | Water pollution | Rocks | Equipment and machinery | Reservoirs | PCB | Ecological restoration

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