An explosion at an energy plant in Central Connecticut that was under-construction has killed five workers and injured 12 others. This disaster prompted a major emergency response by local and state officials. Approximately 50 construction workers were inside the building on February 7th shortly before noon when it’s believed that a leak in one of the lines at the gas-fired energy plant ignited, blowing apart much of the structure. Authorities have launched a criminal investigation into the cause of the explosion.
The plant, located in Middletown, was being built by Kleen Energy Systems, which broke ground on the project nearly two years ago. It was scheduled to go online in June. Reports were that the blast could be felt miles away. The state dispatched a four-person Behavioral Health Team to help provide counseling for the families, workers and others affected. The powerful explosion blew apart large swaths of the nearly completed 620-megawatt Kleen Energy plant as workers for the construction company, O&G Industries Inc., were purging a gas line. The blast tore apart sheet metal that covered the plant’s sides and left parts of the complex so unstable that rescuers were unable to work the next day because of the danger of collapse. Rescue crews were unable to get to all areas of the plant for a considerable period of time. But authorities have said that everyone who was assigned to work at the plant at the time of the explosion has been accounted for.
Workers for O&G Industries, a Torrington-based general contractor, were clearing the gas lines of air when the explosion happened just outside the building, between two of the generators. During this procedure, equipment such as welding machines and electricity should be shut off. Officials don’t know if all equipment was shut down before the blast. Investigators will look into whether any equipment was on or whether there was anything at the scene that could have ignited the gas.
The Board’s investigators will determine which federal safety standards apply to the Kleen Energy plant. The fuel gas code has an exemption for power plants. Safety board investigators have done extensive work on the issue of gas line purging since the explosion last year at the Slim Jim factory in North Carolina which killed four people. The investigators have identified explosions at other sites caused by workers who were unsafely venting gas lines inside buildings.
Source: Insurance Journal
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