How Earthquakes and Tremors Cause Diesel Generator Problems

The 2001 Seattle Nisqually earthquake lasted only 40 seconds, but was felt as far away as Salt Lake City.  It caused  building damage, and power outages across the region.

“Seattle, WA, USA”

When the power went out, diesel-powered Emergency Power Supply Systems (EPSS) all over the Puget Sound sprang up to provide vital electricity to data centers, hospitals and waste-water treatment equipment.

However the tremors also stir up rust, sediment, water and other debris from the bottom of the tank, and suspend it in the fuel, which is then drawn into the generators as fuel.  

This debris quickly clogged the fuel filters, leading to immediate generator shutdown – just when emergency power was needed the most.  Replacing the fuel filter buys a little more time, but ultimately, the debris needs to be filtered out of the tank on an emergency basis.

Facilities that have regular fuel service suffer no such fuel problems.  We always recommend preventive maintenance to avoid diesel fuel problems.