ATLANTA - Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is back up and running, but it will be days before all the effects of Sunday’s blackout are finally resolved.
More than 400 flights were canceled Monday because of the massive power outage on Sunday that left the world’s busiest airport in the dark for nearly 12 hours.
Channel 2 investigative reporter Aaron Diamant sat down with Georgia Power CEO Paul Bowers on Monday and gave him a breakdown of what happened.
“We recognize the impact it’s had on thousands of people, and for that, we apologize,” Bowers said.
A fire in an underground service tunnel caused a massive power outage that crippled the airport.
“That fire was so intense that it disrupted that primary source of power into the concourses, as well as a secondary source of power into the concourses,” Bowers said.
Bowers told Diamant that switchgear, which is equipment that manages electric sources into the airport, failed and then caught fire, damaging all seven feeder lines that service the building.
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“They’re stacked in that tunnel that allows for the redundancy, if you will. This fire, which started at the bottom of the tunnel, was so intense that it took out the service,” Bowers told Diamant.
The unprecedented airportwide blackout forced more than 1,000 flight cancellations Sunday and left tens of thousands of passengers stranded in Atlanta and around the world.
“We understand the national and global implications of this, so what else can we do? We have to work with the airport in terms of how we set up our services going forward, but is there more generation outside that we can put in place to ensure that nothing happens like this again?” Bowers said.
Bowers said the FBI and ATF are helping with the investigation as well.
“We understand others will be looking at asking those same questions. That’s why my focus is: Answer those questions as quickly as possible, understand exactly what happened and then resolve it going forward,” Bowers said.
Diamant also spoke with Hartsfield-Jackson Airport general manager Roosevelt Council on Monday inside the airport’s emergency operation center where workers were still managing the fallout from Sunday.
“I think accountability is important, but that’s what we’ve actually seen from Georgia Power,” Council said.
Video from Georgia Power shows repair crews inside an airport service tunnel, where the fire started, that caused the massive power outage.
Bowers promised to focus on specific prevention strategies, “While Council and his team start their own search for takeaways.”
“I tend to believe what Paul says and we’re excited about that," Council said.
“We’re extremely sorry for what it did to disrupt their lives.”— Aaron Diamant (@AaronDiamantWSB) December 18, 2017
We’re getting answers from @GeorgiaPower CEO Paul Bowers about Sunday’s crippling outage at @ATLairport. What the company knows so far and the next steps...at 5 @wsbtv pic.twitter.com/9EpTgxREuL