Basslink cable repairs about to start

Cable fault lies 98 km from Tassie coast, company says

Basslink has announced that it has nailed down the location of its cable break and is about to start repairs. The company says the break is about 98 km from the Tasmanian coast.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation says the company is about to drag the cable to the surface, so it can be cut and capped before repairs commence.

Getting to that point, the company told the ABC, needed 20 remote-controlled submarines and analysis of more than 500 hours of data and images.

The bad news: repairs probably won't be completed until May. After the two-week cut-and-cap operation, the company explains, the cable ship will return to Geelong to load jointing equipment, spare cable, and personnel to carry out the repairs.

The Basslink submarine fibre-optic cable provides one of the island state's three telecommunications connections to the mainland – the other two are run by incumbent Telstra.

That means when repairs on the electrical cable begin, data traffic will still flow to and from Tasmania.

The more serious problem is that the telecommunications cable was installed alongside a submarine electrical cable system, and that's been non-operational since December.

In normal circumstances, that wouldn't be a problem for Tasmania: it's got so much hydro-electric power that the Basslink electrical cable was expected to spend most of its time exporting that green power to the mainland.

However, the current El Nino weather system has left the state's dams short of water. As a result, it has had to resort to hiring 11 diesel generators to meet its shortfalls, and is imposing restrictions on industries.

Tasmanian news outlet The Examiner also reports that a 300 MW gas generator has also been brought out of mothballs for the crisis, with the state's hydro storages down to 16 per cent.

That outlet also reports the state is considering cloud-seeding to try and get the rain falling. ®

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