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Crews halt damaged wind turbine that was spinning out of control on Deer Island

DEER ISLAND, Mass — Emergency crews have halted a damaged wind turbine that was spinning out of control on Deer Island on Memorial Day.

Winthrop’s Deer Island is home to the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority’s wastewater treatment plant. There are two 100-foot-tall wind turbines rated at 600kW and located on the island’s southwest side.

The island also features walking trails and space for picnicking.

According to the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, someone walking around the public access area of the Deer Island Treatment Plant noticed one of the two wind turbines had something hanging from one of the blades around 10 a.m. The person then called the police.

“You could see the blades were like undulating and the actual tower was going back and forth so frankly we had seen something on the history channel or discovery channel where one of them went haywire and pieces went flying everywhere, it was actually quite scary because they were coming our way,” said Melinda Ginches, who witnessed the turbine.

Due to high winds, the brake that had been stopping the turbine from spinning came loose. Crews then worked to turn on the emergency brake or turn the turbine into a different wind direction.

In a video sent in by a viewer, you can see the wind turbines spinning at a fast speed and the tip of one of the blades flies off.

According to MWRA officials, the turbine in question has been out of service since April 2022, due to a mechanical issue, and was locked in place.

A worker for MWRA was able to climb up around 2:20 p.m. and put an emergency brake to stop the turbine from spinning, but officials say they need to figure out exactly how this happened.

“Although it’s too soon to speculate on what happened, what we assume is that the wind broke the brake or made it come loose and the turbine began to free spin,” MWRA official Ria Convery said.

The other turbine has been shut off for precaution.

MWRA officials said public access near the turbines was restricted until the issue could be resolved.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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