An overnight escape to Mår power plant

Even though I find myself firmly in the grasp of Lady Luck when it comes to possibilities to go out and actually see the power plants we’re managing, maintaining, nursing, rehabilitating and so forth, most days are spent at the office. Office life is a good life, but sometimes one yearns to see the flora and wildlife of the flowing power we harness. Therefore, an opportunity to perform inspections or similar work at one of our power plants is always a welcome escape from the realities of the daily work routine.

Once again the Lady’s favor struck me as I got an offer to join an inspection at Mår power plant in Rjukan. I immediately did what all sensible and responsible employees would do and went straight for my Outlook to check (clear) my calendar. My line tasks shouldn’t suffer too much due to my absence, but they might groan a bit. And after all, it’s only for one night.

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The famous Vemork plant in Rjukan

Mår power plant is located in Rjukan, which is only a short 3 hour drive from Oslo. As it was my first trip to Rjukan, my colleague was nice enough to give me a tour of the place the night before the job. The jewel in the crown was of course the old Vemork plant, used for production of heavy water during World War II. Two famous military operations (Grouse and Gunnerside) to sabotage the plant were depicted in the TV miniseries “The Heavy Water War”. Check it out if you haven’t gotten round to it yet!

At Mår we were introduced to the local staff, got a briefing of the job and the HSSE routines and met the other participants. We were doing an extended condition assessment of the valves and pipes at Daletoppen. The goal was to assess the tear and wear, estimate life span and make recommendations for follow-up work. Pretty neat.

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Gaustatoppen seen from Daletoppen. Future so bright I should have worn shades…

Into the mountain we went, and little did I know that we were going to take the trolley track to get to the top. A quite spectacular ride up between the two 1250 m penstocks at a tasty 40° incline. Steep to say the least. The condition assessment included several smaller jobs. Adit gates, pipes and valves were all under scrutiny. We were especially interested in measuring paint thickness in the interior of the pipes to see how it had fared since the last paint job. This involved washing the pipe with a broom to get a good look at the pitting. A dream job and something which was quickly delegated to me as I was the youngest. I’m pleased to say that the cleaning services I provided were up to a satisfactory standard and that the condition assessments themselves went according to plan.

The power plant at Mår is actually a visitors center during the summer, so I encourage you all to go there and have a look if you get the chance. It boasts having one of the world’s longest longest wooden staircases, as well as a quite intricate five Pelton turbine arrangement.

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