Senator Dodd to Tour Remains of Kleen Energy Plant

The Associated Press is reporting that United States senior Senator Chris Dodd is scheduled to tour the <"">Kleen Energy Systems plant, site of the massive explosion that injured 12 and killed five last weekend. Senator Dodd is scheduled to meet with Mayor Sebastian Giuliano, of Middletown, and will also be speaking to local officials there for a briefing; the tour will be conducted after, with a reporter meeting following, said the AP.

According to Dodd’s office, the senator is collaborating with local and federal officials to help ensure the investigation is complete and effective, noted the AP.

The plant, said the AP previously, is a 620-megawatt plant, being built for the purpose of energy production, using—for the most part—natural gas. 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.

WFSB noted that gas lines were being purged—considered the most dangerous process at a gas-fired power plant—in the days just prior to the blast and that, while extremely dangerous, no laws mandate that fire officials be present during such purging. Last week, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board released a warning, alerting to specific steps to be followed to avoid danger, said WFSB, such as conducting purges away from workers, obtaining official approval to purge interiors, and ensuring gas detectors are installed in areas where gas lines are being purged.

Meanwhile, some have said efforts to meet deadlines took precedence over worker safety, according to its interviews with survivors and victims’ families.

For instance, the brother of one of the workers killed told the 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.” A steamfitter, who is said to have worked at the site one day before the blast, 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. 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. At least one worker confirmed that 12-to-13 hour days were routine, said the AP.

Yesterday we wrote that a burning operation is taking place Kleen Energy. About 40 propane cylinders at the site are being burned because of the dangers involved with moving them, said NB Connecticut. The cylinders involved were severely damaged in the explosion rendering them unsafe to transport. Flaring, the procedure involved, is said to pose no danger to the public, said crews; the process will send up smoke from the site, explained NB Connecticut.

Investigation crews continue to work to determine the blast’s cause and to remove hazardous materials from the site, reported NB Connecticut. Meanwhile, reports WFSB, investigators have been granted additional investigation time to search the site via a warrant; federal authorities are looking to gain additional access.

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