New Haven, CT (Law Firm Newswire) January 20, 2011 - A deadly explosion rocked Kleen Energy’s natural gas plant in Middletown on Feb. 7, 2010. The explosion was felt for miles and resulted in six deaths and 26 injuries. Five of the six workers who died were working on a gas turbine on a purge team. The explosion occurred near a back door that leads into an enclosed courtyard. The explosion reverberated throughout the perimeter, even blowing out windows, knocking things off shelves, and cracking foundations up to 20 miles away.
Kleen Energy is a not yet fully operational power plant located in Middletown on the Connecticut River. The power plant is about 96 percent complete and is expected to be one of the largest power plants in New England. The Kleen Energy power plant is designed to burn natural gas, which is piped into the site to reduce the use of sulfur oil.
Since the deadly explosion, formal arguments were placed to decide who gets to remove the potential evidence out of Kleen Energy’s plant. Many organizations and federal agencies have been called up to investigate the explosion and to perform criminal investigations from local, state and federal levels and from the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board.
The safety board found that while the workers were purging the pipes, they released gas and debris into the courtyard behind the main building, an estimated 40,000 cubic feet of natural gas, 10 minutes before the explosion. Investigators state that there were many potential sources on premise that might have ignited the gas, from inside welding to portable heaters.
“An explosion like this is as if you were in Afghanistan. The unfortunate thing is, in Afghanistan, our troops have armor. Here, these union workers didn’t have armor,” said Attorney Joel Faxon from Stratton Faxon Law Firm, in a FOX CT 61 News interview.
There are no requirements to use safer practices to purge pipes, but Occupational, Safety and Hazard Agency (OSHA) states that companies who choose to use natural gas to purge the pipes are required to take every precautionary measure. Six months after the blast, OSHA states that these precautionary measures – which are standard industry standards, such as proper training – were not relayed to the contractors. OSHA states that for one major event, Kleen Energy power plant blast is the third highest fine issued by OSHA; the two other highest fines were issued to BP. $60 million in fines were issued to the contracting companies involved in this explosion.
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