In Middletown, people gathered on the 13th anniversary of the Kleen Energy Plant Explosion to remember the six workers who lost their lives.
Dozens came together at the memorial outside the plant to pay their respects. A solemn Sunday morning, but many consider it a celebration of life.
"I prefer to call it a celebration of life. They paved a road for us to live by because they were such special, special people,” said Paul Venti, event organizer and retired member of UA Local 777.
Now 🚨: A celebration of life in #Middletown for the 6 men who died in the Kleen Energy Explosion in 2010.— Jolie Sherman (@jshermnews) February 5, 2023
First responders found the flag (picture below) tangled in debris after the blast.
It now serves as CT’s Workers Memorial Flag to honor ALL workers who never came home. pic.twitter.com/MvHOMTJyrN
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The Kleen Energy Power Plant exploded in Middletown on February 7th, 2010. The blast killed five workers and injured dozens more. One additional worker later died from his injuries.
"I was just saying a prayer for my neighbor. He was one of the people that died that day,” said Thomas Alferi, a neighbor of one of the victims. Alferi says he was working at the plant one day before the explosion.
State leaders joined those who continue to mourn for their friends and loved ones, emphasizing their commitment to workplace safety.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, deadly workplace injuries are up 8.9% since 2020. In 2021, there were 5,190 reported deaths.
The six fallen workers, Peter C. Chepulis, Ronald J. Crabb, Raymond E. Dobbratz, Kenneth W. Haskell Jr., Roy D. Rushton, and Vance C. Walters, have been honored in this way for the past twelve years.
This year, first responders presented the American flag that flew in front of the plant at the time of the explosion. The tears and burns from the blast now preserved behind glass.
The flag now serves as the Connecticut Workers Memorial Flag to not only honor the six men but all workers who have lost their lives on the job.