Connecticut Explosion Victim was Concerned About Safety at Kleen Energy Plant

Following the huge <"">explosion at Connecticut’s Kleen Energy power plant that injured 12 and killed five, the brother of one of the workers killed told the Associated Press (AP) that his brother described the project as “screwed up.” Another worker, said the AP, who was working the day prior to the explosion, said job safety was “substandard.”

The blast destroyed walls at the Kleen Energy Systems power plant in Middletown, about 20 miles south of Hartford, Connecticut, the AP explained previously. The town is home to about 45,000 people and the blast is considered the worst in its history, said the New York Times last week.

The plant, said the AP previously, is a 620-megawatt plant, and is being built for the purpose of energy production, using—for the most part—natural gas. According to Santostefano, the workers there Sunday, who were employed by O&G Industries, were” purging” gas lines at the time of the blast, said the AP. Construction initiated in February 2008 when Kleen Energy Systems signed a “capacity deal” with Connecticut Light and Power for the electricity it produced, explained the AP, which also wrote that construction was expected to be completed by mid-year.

It seems that, said the AP, efforts to meet deadlines took precedence over worker safety, according to its interviews with survivors and victims’ families. Speaking about his brother, Ron Crabb, Carl told the AP that, “Ron wasn’t too happy the way this job was going…. They had a lot of problems. I know he said the job was really screwed up.” According to Carl, his brother and other workers at Kleen Energy, discussed pressure to complete the job and expressed regret at ever having had accepted the work, said the AP. “They felt they were slipping further behind—lot of tension on the job,” he said, quoted the AP.

A steamfitter who is said to have worked at the site one day before the blast—Tom Alfieri, 58—told the AP that electrical and welding cords were everywhere. “It was a very messy place…. They didn’t hire enough laborers. The safety on the job was substandard,” quoted the AP. Alfieri also confirmed what Crabb noted, regarding pressure to complete the job, not unheard of in that sort of assignment, the AP reported.

The son of another worker killed in the explosion said his father was working 80 hours weekly and complained of being pressured to complete the job, reported the AP, which noted that one attorney for an injured worker said some there were working seven days each week.

According to Deputy Fire Marshal Al Santostefano, somewhere between 50-to-60 people were believed to have been in the area when the blast occurred. Because multiple contractors were working at the plant, it remains unclear how many people were actually at the locale. Mayor Sebastian Giuliano said that anywhere from 100 to 200 workers could be on location during a normal weekday, reported the AP.

At least one worker confirmed that 12-to-13 hour days were routine, said the AP. Meanwhile, an Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) public affairs officer said he did not know of any federal laws or regulations limiting how many hours an employer mandate staff to work. OSHA records confirm that O&G Industries was sited with a violation on the site following an inspection last July, but that the violation was minor and O&G paid the $1,000 fine, said the AP. Also, said the AP, Santostefano, noted that identifying the blast’s site of origin is close, which will help determine its cause.

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