Monday, November 07, 2011
Argentina: The Rio Negro Blackouts (1998)
Source: El Dragón Invisible
Argentina: The Rio Negro Blackouts (1998)
By Carlos Iurchuk – La Plata, Argentina
Sunday, April 12, 1998
The lights went off at 19:45 hours. Repairs were undertaken by technicians from the Cooperativa Eléctrica Bariloche (CEB) who detected an interruption in the medium-voltage line from [the town of] Fernandez Beschtedt to La Paz after the Cipresales transformer was left out of commission, “leaving practically have the city without power.”
Engineer Claudio Campo of the electric utility confirmed that the CEB had ascertained “a consumption of electricity five to six times higher than usual” and this overvoltage – whose possible origin could have been “a three-phase short circuit” or a “power demand” – managed to blow the electric grid’s cables.
“We didn’t find a short circuit,” Campo noted, assuring that the second alternative was that “something had drawn power.”
Technicians state that the weather conditions could not have brought about the blackout. No one could explain the phenomenon that resulted in peak consumption of 1050 amperes on the electric lines.
“At 22:11, three minutes after service was restored, a new blackout occurred that prompted repair crews to conduct a detailed scan of the city’s power lines,” stated the CEB, stressing that the search was conducted from “post to post” without any evidence suggesting the reason for the blackouts being found. Neither the National Interconnected System nor short-circuits, much less acts of vandalism, could account for the blackouts. “Surveys by repair crews enabled us to determine that no acts of vandalism had occurred on conductors or isolators, and furthermore, the favorable weather conditions dismissed the possibility that the problem could have been brought about by powerful winds.”
No technical explanation justified the successive interruptions and brown-outs recorded throughout the city [of Bariloche].
At the same time that a sizeable part of the city was plunged into darkness, residents of the city’s eastern section saw very bright lights flying swiftly over the mountains in the sector near the airport.
One witness even said that a “mothership” – larger than the rest – led a formation over Cerro Leones and that smaller ships pulled into it, producing sparks s they did so. He pointed out that the maneuver occurred at least twice, coinciding with the successive brown-outs and blackouts all over the city.
This hypothesis appears to be confirmed, with some differences, by Gustavo and Beatriz Riveros, who saw two lights fly by – one from Cerro Carbón – and that “merged” over Cerro Leones.
Other witnesses noted that the sighting took place over several minutes and that they were able to see strange lights over Lake Nahuel Huapi and toward the south. They agreed that the size of the larger vessel was twice that of a streetlight, and that the objects emitted bright flashes of light with red, yellow and white tones.
Andrea, Natalia and Carolina Caparro, of the Nicolás Lavalle district, told the TELAM news agency that at 22:30 hours that evening they had seen “a sort of saucer with red, yellow, green and white flashes of light, and another object, slightly larger and elongated, with red and yellow lights.” The luminous objects “remained suspended in the air for several minutes before heading off toward the lake sector.”
Although their sightings began around 23:30 hours, relatives and neighbors “had seen it much earlier.”
“These were lights of various colors and at low altitude. They made no noise whatsoever, and whenever a bright white light appeared, the power went out,” said America Jara, a witness to the sighting.
Several residents of the city’s higher section got in touch with radio and TV stations to report seeing [objects resembling] stars that moved and gave off red, yellow, green and “glowing white” flashes of light between 22:30 and 23:45 hours.
The lights moved back and forth in a straight line until “another object, elongated and the size of a small soda bottle” appeared, and they docked with it, according to locals.
This docking maneuver took place “with a great flash, like a burst of electricity, and lights immediately went out all over the city,” said a woman who asked to remain anonymous, like other residents of Bariloche.
Residents of Dina Huapi, the downtown area, the IPPV districts and other parts of the city also contributed eyewitness accounts.
The CEB also received information from a well-known resident of the San Francisco district, who claimed seeing “something like a red ball” descending in a zigzag maneuver at full speed at the long pedestrian stairway at Tiscornia. In this case, of course, the structure is located under a medium voltage line and could have easily been an electric discharge or loss of power.
The local airport reported that but for the power interruption, an inconvenience remedied by the repair crews, “no strange events were reported” in that district.
“They were private planes arriving for the weekend and took off at the end of the day on Sunday. Furthermore, there were also nocturnal flights,” explained an official with the local weather office.
Problems continued – without repairs being made –“ until 1:34 a.m., without any evidence suggesting an explanation for the occurrence. Power was restored to the lines as from that moment without further inconvenience.”
Tuesday, April 14, 1998
A new electric blackout occurs with no official explanation being offered. A sizeable part of the city was left completely in the dark.
Julio Posse, a resident of Barrio Melipal, said: “...a very bright glow was seen to the east of Cerro Otto. My family witnessed it from inside the house. My children said: “Daddy, the UFOs!” and I replied: “Yes, the UFOS...”
The storm that punished the city that night may have accounted for not as many reports as on Sunday, when the sky was completely cloudless.
Luis Baigorria, a spokesman for the CEB, noted that Tuesday’s power loss went “...from Kilometer 1 of Bustillo Avenue to Puerto Moreno. A few minutes after the power was lost, the lines charged up again, but protections appeared again and the problem repeated itself in the same area...”
“...Yet again, no evidence was found to determine that the interruption was due to deliberate reasons that affected the lines, or any logical circumstances that could have affected the supply of electricity,” Baigorria concluded.
Engineer Claudio Campo explained: “What happened on Tuesday was identical to Sunday, but there were no records in this case, since the Puerto Moreno transformer station isn’t there, and no succession of events was recorded...”
Wednesday, April 15, 1998
Around 22:30 hours, Adrian Zuber, an employee with a transportation company, captured the maneuvers of a strange and bright light in the direction of Cerro León with his Sony camera. The recording showed a vast black background on which a light can be seen to glow “intensely and incessantly” with red, blue, yellow and green flashes. These flashes can be seen more clearly when the zoom function is applied, but the shape cannot be seen clearly, although a halo can be made out.
“It was very shocking”, said Zuber. All day he received calls from all national and foreign media, including from Germany and the United States.
The local resident traveled some 15 kilometers from his home, near the 255 School, to the intersection of Routes 23 and 237, where he made the recording. The last flight recorded from the local airport was a little after 20:00 hours, over two hours before the recording was made. Local Channel 6 broke the story and broadcast the images.