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Failure of ESE Rods in Peru

Date: Tue, 15 Feb 2005
From: Richard Kithil Jr.
Subject: Failure of ESE Rods in Peru

I recently returned from a lightning safety site assessment under contract for Barrick Gold Corp's open pit gold mines located in Huaraz Province, Peru at 14,500 ft. They own two mines, about 150 km apart. Both mines use French-made ESE lightning rods sold by Para-rayos. (For non-Spanish speakers "para" means "stop" and "rayos" means "lightning.")

On November 28, 2004, both mines experienced lightning strikes that caused injuries. Thunderstorms generally approach east from the Amazon basin, coming over the Andes Mountains.

Incident No. 1: At Pierina Mine, the ESE rod near the site of the accident was mounted on a 15 m high metal pole. Vendor information ( describes the zone of protection as being 104 m. A hauling truck was struck while parked 70 m from the base of the ESE pole. People working on the truck were injured and hospitalized (due to step and touch voltages).

Incident No. 2: The ESE rod (same brand) was installed on a 15 m high pole. A small metal building located 10 m from pole was struck. People were injured (also due to step and touch voltages).

In Peru, the ESE vendors are very successful. They not only claim extreme zones of protection, but (worse) they state that ESEs provide people safety within that same radius. According to mine ES&H manager Orlando Alzamora, cost of an ESE rod is $700. The cost of a Franklin Rod is about $2.00.

A Franklin rod installed at the same height will function the same as an ESE rod. For More on ESEs, see the Uman/Rakov AMS Paper "A Critical Review of Unconventional Air Terminals at: and other information at our website.

Richard Kithil, Jr., Founder & CEO
National Lightning Safety Institute
Tel. 303-666-8817; Fax 303-666-8786
A Non-Profit Agency Providing Objective Information about Lightning Hazards

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