Workers were forced to evacuate from a transformer platform in the giant £3billion Seagreen wind farm 27 miles off Scotland’s Angus coastline, following an escape of “the most potent greenhouse gas” in the world.

The sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) escape – the most damaging to the world, according to the [US Environmental Protection Agency](…/sulfur-hexafluoride-sf6-basics) – happened five months ago, with industry workers blowing the whistle on the incident to North Sea trade unionist Jake Molloy of RMT.

The 1 gigawatt (GW) wind farm is [owned by SSE (49%) and TotalEnergies (51%)]( with the substation managed by contractor Petrofac.

SF6, a synthetic gas, is almost 24,000 times more dangerous as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, according to the [UK’s Health and Safety Executive.](…/exemption-pressure-systems…/)

It is frighteningly persistent, with an atmospheric lifetime of 3,200 years.

Mr Molloy said he raised the incident with SSE and subsequently with the HSE (Health & Safety Executive) and, angered by the lack of workforce engagement in the sector he brought the incident to our attention.

HSE told Energy Voice that the incident was raised at the time, though it did not conduct an investigation. A spokesperson added that “the information has been used to inform future intervention activities”.

Though there were no casualties, EV has discovered that SSE/Petrofac failed to report the evacuation to the Coastguard as a safety precaution, though it said HSE and Marine Scotland were notified.

Clearly aware of SF6’s destructiveness, on December 1 last year the HSE granted a “legal exemption that will enable the use of more environmentally friendly gases in the electricity distribution network”.
In 2019, it was estimated that, across the entire UK network of power lines and substations, there were around one million kilograms of SF6 in use.

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