Officials Begin Middletown Explosion Investigations

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By Tanya Roth, Esq. on February 09, 2010 12:51 PM

Investigations into the cause of the Kleen Energy plant explosion in Middletown, Connecticut, and the level of worker safety at the plant are beginning, according to a report by the Hartford Courant. Officials currently believe a welder's torch in the vicinity of the natural gas being purged from the underground pipeline could have caused the blast. The purging operation requires that the accumulated gas be vented from buildings and enclosures before combustible elements like a welder's torch can be safety introduced. 

The investigations will begin with the local police cordoning off Middletown explosion site as a crime scene to limit access and preserve evidence, according to the Courant. In letters from attorneys for Kleen Energy, the plant opening, officially set for November, was now estimated to be sometime this summer. Local attorney Robert Reardon, who is representing one of the injured pipefitters, said the workers felt pressure to meet the new deadline and were working up to seven days a week to complete the project.

The Courant reports that Governor M. Jodi Rell announced Monday that inquires into worker safety conditions on the site will be conducted at the state level and will review safety and other labor, training, permitting and supervision issues. However, the main investigation will be a joint effort of state, local and federal agencies including OSHA and the ATF and will focus on the exact cause of the explosion. "It's going to try to determine whether all electricity was shut down as a precaution, workers moved from the area -- all of those issues,"  Deputy Middletown Fire Marshal Al Santostefano told the Courant.   

The House Education and Labor Committee Chairman, George Miller, has also agreed to hearings on the blast to ensure that steps are taken to prevent such a catastrophe from happing again.

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