A routine inspection by the Waterschap, the authority charged with the maintenance of Holland's dike system, has revealed that a number of the Kenetech 33M-VS (NL) turbines at northern Europe's largest wind plant, the 34 MW Eemshaven wind farm in Groningen north of Delfzijl, are leaking oil. The problem first became apparent last summer when 19 of the turbines -- those installed on the sea dyke -- were found to be leaking oil onto the surrounding grass and tarmac. According to Waterschap official Jan Trouw, the consequences for the sea defence system could be serious. "The oil is loosening the protective layer on the asphalt covered dyke and that cannot be tolerated," he told the Ommelander Courant, a local newspaper. Initially it was thought that only the turbines on the dyke were affected, but closer inspection revealed the problem to be widespread in the wind farm. Dick Honnef of utility EDON, co-owner of the plant along with Kenetech, says that all of the 94 turbines may be leaking oil. The extent of the damage to the sea wall is as yet unknown, but according to Trouw, samples have been taken and sent for analysis. "The cost of any eventual repairs will be charged to EDON," he says. News of the oil leaks comes just a year after a series of blade failures forced the intermittent shut down at wind speeds above 13 m/s and during maintenance work. Honnef is reluctant to release further details of this latest setback in advance of a press conference to be held shortly, but he says the oil problem and the blade failures will be dealt with in a retrofit programme due to begin "before the summer."
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