Independent probe set in Superdome outage

Feb. 5, 2013 at 4:29 PM
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NEW ORLEANS, Feb. 5 (UPI) -- Mercedes-Benz Superdome operators said Tuesday an independent investigator will look into the power outage during the Super Bowl in New Orleans.

The Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District and SMG, the facility's management company, said in a statement issued jointly with Entergy New Orleans Inc. they will hire a third-party expert to conduct the assessment, after consultation with the National Football League.

A recent electrical system upgrade at the Superdome may have contributed to the blackout during the Super Bowl Sunday, officials say.

While a Superdome official said a switchgear tripped after it "sensed an abnormality," what caused the problem was still being investigated, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reported Monday.

After Entergy News Orleans spent $4.2 million in December to add another feeder line to the two already supplying the stadium, a test found the equipment had "some decay and had a chance of failure." An engineer hired by stadium management found the power lines were "not sufficiently reliable," so more than $1 million in upgrades were ordered to the feeder cables that allowed the Entergy updates to be put online, authorities said.

The switchgear that shut off Sunday night was part of the upgrades.

While the equipment worked as it was supposed to, Doug Thornton, senior vice of SMG, which manages the Superdome, said it's "premature at this point to say what it was or what caused it."

Entergy spokeswoman Yolanda Pollard said the switchgear was the current point of focus because it's "the component that's on our side, that we can check."

She said it's not the only piece of equipment being checked out.

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