2010 Connecticut power plant explosion
|Time||11:17 am EST|
|Date||February 7, 2010|
|Location||Middletown, Connecticut, United States|
|6 dead, at least 50 injured|
The 2010 Connecticut power plant explosion occurred at the Kleen Energy Systems power station in Middletown, Connecticut, United States at 11:17 am EST on February 7, 2010. The plant had been under construction from September 2007, and was scheduled to start supplying energy in June 2010. The initial blast killed five and injured at least fifty; one of the injured later died in hospital, bringing the total death toll to six.
The blast at the 620-megawatt (830,000 hp), Siemens combined cycle gas and oil-fired power plant occurred at 11:17 am, and was reported at 11:25 am EST. The plant's manager, Gordon Holk, said that contractors and other workers from O & G Industries, Ducci Electric, and Keystone Construction and Maintenance Services were at the site when the blast occurred. The explosion occurred at the rear of the largest building, the turbine hall, which was destroyed. Some residents reported "earthquake-like tremors" from at least 10 miles (16 km) away, although the blast proved not to be seismically detectable. Another resident of the area felt that it was more like a sonic boom.
According to authorities, neither terrorism or an intentional crime was the cause of the explosion, though criminal negligence was being investigated. A neighbor of the plant said that there was natural gas stored there, which was later said to be related to the explosion. Flames were reported to have been coming from a gas pipe until the gas was shut off. The local fire marshal said the explosion was the result of an attempted purging of natural gas from a pipeline as a test, a procedure known as a blow-down, and according to a state official who had been briefed on the incident, the explosion had been sparked by a "flame device," possibly a propane heater. The president of the Connecticut AFL-CIO, however, disagreed with this explanation, saying it was more likely that an inadvertent spark had caused the explosion, rather than an open flame.
Reaction and follow-up
Middletown deputy fire marshal Al Santostefano later said that there had been fewer than 50 people injured, as some of the workers had made it out alive, and that there were no signs of life in the ruins of the plant. At least 12 of the injured were treated at local hospitals. Emergency personnel and almost 20 ambulances were at the scene shortly after the blast occurred, using helicopters to transport victims while search-and-rescue crews with dogs scoured the rubble. Middlesex Hospital in Middletown said it was receiving patients from the blast. At least one victim was also taken to Hartford Hospital. By 1:30pm local time, at least 100 firefighters were at the scene and the fire had been extinguished. Connecticut governor M. Jodi Rell was being briefed by authorities and opened the state's emergency management center, and she later traveled to the scene of the explosion. Connecticut State Police said they were sending detectives to investigate the explosion.
Rescue officials at the plant turned away reporters because hazardous material leakage was possible. Nearby hospitals and surrounding states also offered to aid in the rescue process. The Joint Terrorism Task Force also arrived at the site of the explosion but were only there to monitor, as local and state officials were handling the investigation. The federal Chemical Safety Board deployed a seven person team to the site, which was expected to be on the scene by Monday, February 8, but was later prohibited from entering the site. The mayor of Middletown said the plant will ultimately be rebuilt, a statement that was confirmed by a Kleen Energy official, who said that construction would resume once the investigation into the incident was completed. In February 2011, it was announced that Kleen Energy and O&G Industries will build a memorial park to honor those who died or were injured during the blast. The plant underwent extensive repairs during the remainder of 2010 and early 2011, and is scheduled to open in April 2011.
The investigation into the incident started the day after the explosion, and was conducted by agencies at the local, state and federal levels. It was expected to focus on whether human error or insufficient safety protocols were at fault. In particular, according to the local fire marshal, the investigation was to look at whether electricity was cut off from the area, whether workers had been evacuated before the purging of the gas line, and whether ignition sources were present. Several days before the explosion, the Chemical Safety Board had approved new recommendations on gas line purging in the United States following an explosion at a food manufacturing plant in North Carolina in 2009 that killed four people. Despite the Board's interest in the case, a spokesman said on February 9 that their team of investigators was being denied entrance to the site of the explosion, on the grounds that the area was a crime scene. (The Chemical Safety Board did eventually deploy a team of ten investigators to the site.)
On 5 August 2010, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced that it planned to fine seventeen companies involved in the construction of the plant a total of $16.6 million. OSHA said that it had found a total of 371 safety violations in the construction of the plant, 225 of which it considered deliberate. The Chemical Safety Board released its final report on 28 June 2010.
- "CSB Investigation Final Report" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-03-10.
- McFadden, Robert D. (7 February 2010). "Casualties Expected From Connecticut Explosion". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 10 February 2010. Retrieved 2010-02-07.
- Allen, Nick (7 February 2010). "Connecticut gas explosion at power plant 'leaves up to 50 dead'". London: Telegraph Media Group Limited. Archived from the original on 10 February 2010. Retrieved 2010-02-07.
- "6th Worker Dies of Injuries From Kleen Energy Blast". Retrieved 2011-03-10.
- "Kleen Energy Systems". Archived from the original on 12 February 2010. Retrieved 2010-02-07.
- Elsner, Alan (7 February 2010). ""Mass casualties" in Connecticut blast: police". Thomson Reuters. Archived from the original on 10 February 2010. Retrieved 7 February 2010.
- "Many feared dead in Conn. power plant blast". MSNBC. 7 February 2010. Archived from the original on 9 February 2010. Retrieved 2010-02-07.
- "2 Dead, 250 Injured in Conn. Explosion". CBS Interactive, Inc. 7 February 2010. Archived from the original on 9 February 2010. Retrieved 2010-02-07.
- "Witness To Middletown Explosion: 'There Are Bodies Everywhere'". The Hartford Courant. 7 February 2010. Retrieved 2010-02-07.[dead link]
- "At least 2 dead in Connecticut power plant explosion". CNN. 8 February 2010. Archived from the original on 10 February 2010. Retrieved 7 February 2010.
- Benson, Judy (9 February 2010). "Middletown explosion didn't register on Yale earthquake scale". The Day. Retrieved 2010-02-09.
- "Mass Casualties In US Power Station Blast". Sky news. Retrieved 7 February 2010.[dead link]
- Peters, Mark; Maher, Kris (9 February 2010). "Blast Probe Looks at Gas-Line Clearing". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on 10 February 2010. Retrieved 10 February 2010.
- "At Least 2 Dead in Massive Power Plant Explosion". The Hartford Courant. 7 February 2010. Retrieved 2010-02-07.
- "Some dead in Connecticut power plant explosion". CTV. 7 February 2010. Archived from the original on 10 February 2010. Retrieved 2010-02-07.
- Aeppel, Tim (8 February 2010). "Deadly blast hits Connecticut Plant". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on 11 February 2010. Retrieved 8 February 2010.
- "Official says fewer than 50 hurt in Conn. power plant explosion; number of deaths is unknown". Los Angeles Times. 7 February 2010. Retrieved 2010-02-07.[dead link]
- "FBI Official: Conn. Blast Doesn't Seem to Be Terrorist Act". Dow Jones Newswires. 7 February 2010. Retrieved 2010-02-07.
- "CSB Deploying Investigation Team to Fatal Explosion at Kleen Energy Power Plant in Middletown, Connecticut". 7 February 2010. Retrieved 2010-02-07.
- "Mourning in Middletown: Grim search for workers' bodies in aftermath of Kleen Energy Plant explosion". New York Daily News. 8 February 2010. Archived from the original on 11 February 2010. Retrieved 14 February 2010.
- "Official says construction of plant will resume". The Middletown Press. 10 February 2010. Retrieved 14 February 2010.
- EXPLOSION ANNIVERSARY: Kleen Energy plant set to open in April Middletown Press, Feb 6, 2011
- "Explosion Investigation Focusing on Safety Issues". Hartford Courant. 8 February 2010. Archived from the original on 10 February 2010. Retrieved 8 February 2010.
- "CSB Votes to Approve Urgent Gas Code". Occupational Health & Safety. 8 February 2010. Retrieved 8 February 2010.
- "New Power Plant Explosion". Philip Poynter Construction Safety. 8 February 2010. Retrieved 8 February 2010.
- "Statement of CSB Investigations Supervisor Don Holmstrom Updating the Public on the CSB's Investigation of the Catastrophic Accident at Kleen Energy, Middletown, Connecticut" (PDF). US Chemical Safety Board. 25 February 2010. Retrieved 20 September 2010.
- Buettner, Russ (5 August 2010). "$16.6 Million in Fines After Fatal Blast at a Connecticut Plant". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 August 2010.
- "Kleen Energy Natural Gas Explosion". US Chemical Safety Board. 28 June 2010. Retrieved 20 September 2010.