You will probably recall the horrific blast that occurred on February 7, 2010, at Kleen Energy power plant in Middletown, Connecticut. Six workers were killed and 26 others were injured when an explosion ripped through the building. It was reported that a gas line purge was being conducted at the time. For a reminder on the details of this event, see our posting filed that same day in February. You can also watch a news report on the investigation into the cause of the explosion as well.
Two employees of a subcontractor, Ducci Electrical Contractors, on the site that day, Timothy Hilliker and Harold Thoma, are the first to file a suit relating to this incident. It is alleged that “…the Feb. 7 purge was poorly supervised, that active welding and grinding were taking place on-site at the time of the explosion and that a gas-fueled torch heater was running at the time of the deadly blast.”
Hilliker and Thoma are being represented by Joel Faxon of Stratton Faxon. In an interview with the Hartford Courant, Faxon provided the essence of their claim:
“These guys showed up to work and had no concept of what was going on. There was no supervisor telling them what to do.”
Faxon said that Thoma had just stepped out of the Ducci construction trailer when the blast occurred. He suffered head injuries and has been in and out of the hospital. Hilliker was in the trailer when the blast occurred and was thrown into a wall; he also had head injuries.
Faxon said his firm represents about 12 people who were working at the plant when the blast occurred. The lawsuit names O&G Industries, the general contractor for the billion-dollar construction job; Keystone Construction and Maintenance Services Inc., which was supervising the purge; and plant owner Kleen Energy Systems LLC.
According to the report, the pipeline purging, which is the still under investigation for possible criminal charges, is expected to be the subject of much discussion at a National Fire Protection Administration safety seminar this week in San Francisco.
Dan Horowitz, a spokesman for the NFPA, stated, “You don’t want to ventilate in an area where gas can accumulate near people and ignition sources,” Horowitz said. According to Horowitz, the board is recommending a ban of indoor purging of gas lines and will state that gas should be discharged outdoors, away from all confined areas.
UPDATE: 2/25/10 – new warrant issued for site – see today’s posting in boston.com.