Failure of steam turbine blades

Case Study 1 – Expert witness – acting for the defendant

Steam turbine Disk
Steam Turbine Disk
Following sale of a combined-cycle power plant, a turbine blade failed causing significant damage and loss of revenue. The buyer commenced action against the vendor on the ground that the equipment was not, at the point of sale, in the serviceable condition warranted.

Mr Brear was instructed to act as an expert witness on behalf of the vendor, to review the technical reports on the failure, to examine the physical evidence, to prepare witness statements and to participate in expert meetings with the other side. He also performed a joint inspection of the blade material with his opposite number.

Whilst it was conceded that in certain respects the turbine was not as warranted, various operational factors in the period after sale were identified that arguably contributed to the final failure.

A satisfactory settlement was agreed on exchange of supplementary witness statements.


Case Study 2 – Expert witness – acting for the claimant

A commercial dispute arose between a fuel supplier and a plant operator, in that the operator had not taken the amount of fuel contractually agreed. In defence he claimed force majeur, arguing that a low-pressure blade failure had forced an unforeseeable plant outage and that he had acted throughout as a reasonable and prudent operator.

Mr Brear was instructed to act as an expert witness on behalf of the fuel supplier, to review the technical reports on the failure, to examine the physical evidence, to prepare witness statements and to participate in expert meetings with the other side.

Significant evidence was found of operation and maintenance issues that had arguably contributed to the failure.

A satisfactory settlement was agreed following the joint expert meetings.

Plant Integrity