10 July 2024

Elia making every effort to restore high-voltage grid in Mechelen region following storm

The high-voltage system operator Elia has set up a task force to secure the high-voltage line in and around Leest (Mechelen).

Multiple teams are already on-site and taking stock of the damage done to homes alongside their owners. Yesterday afternoon's extreme weather toppled nine high-voltage pylons – across a distance of four kilometres – in the Leest area. It also brought down conductors (high-voltage cables), most of which ended up in fields and some of which fell onto around 15 homes. No one was injured, but the material damage was extensive and the repair work will take months to complete. 

Task force

One day after the storm, Elia is taking stock of the damage done to the high-voltage grid in the Leest area. First and foremost, the high-voltage pylons that remain unscathed following yesterday's storm will be stabilised. Indeed, the toppling of nine pylons along the line means that the pull exerted on the other pylons has increased. Next, the conductors that have fallen across a distance of several kilometres will be removed. The priority here will be to clear the roads and 15 affected homes, alongside removing the conductor that fell near a railway track and those that fell in some fields. The damaged high-voltage pylons will be dismantled at a later stage.

Elia’s staff are remaining in the area in order to assist and inform local residents about the situation. Elia has also been involved in information sessions organised by the municipal authorities. Around 10 of the homes damaged by the high-voltage line will not be accessible until the middle of next week. However, residents may enter their homes to collect personal items if they are accompanied by staff from Elia and firefighters. Shelter was provided for local residents last night in consultation with the municipal crisis management unit. 

Backup line

There was no risk of electrocution during the incident and the power running through the high-voltage line was automatically switched off. The line was also earthed in order to avoid any further danger, such as from lightning strikes for example. Despite the extreme circumstances, the power supply via Elia’s grid was maintained at all times. However, part of the local low-voltage network operated by Fluvius went offline due to it being struck by a high-voltage conductor. As a result, a number of homes don’t have any power.

Elia is currently investigating the construction of a backup line near Leest. At the same time, studies will be launched in order to begin repairing the damaged line. 

Unusual situation

In Elia's 23-year history as the high-voltage system operator, this is one of the most serious incidents that it has faced in one single location. Elia is and will remain in close contact with Mechelen's crisis management unit and is giving first priority to the repair work. Teams from other regions and projects will be called in so they too can work on the damaged high-voltage line.

Marleen Vanhecke
Head of Communication & Reputation Elia Group
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