Board Recommends Banning “Gas Blow” After Fatal Blasts

The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board voted Monday to recommend stricter guidelines for power plants operations.  The hope is the measures will prevent another tragedy, like the power plant explosion in Middletown.

"It's the worst day of my life. I pray that this is the beginning of a resolution, that my friends didn't die in vain," said Carolyn Beamer, a plant worker.

In all, six men died as a result of the explosion at the Kleen Energy Power Plant in Middletown, and many wonder if that tragedy could have been prevented if more safety guidelines were put in place.  A study by the CSB hoped to shed some light on the accident.

"Our team determined the result, what led to this accident, was actually largely following the procedure and the guideline that was not only used at this particular site, but utilized in a number of sites throughout the country," said Don Holmstrom, the investigation supervisor.

The procedure is a type of pipe cleaning, which uses natural gas to push debris through the pipes.  Investigators say its highly dangerous and is what caused the explosion in Middletown.  The investigation also found that not all Kleen employees knew about the pipe purging.  There wasn't a safety meeting or instructions even after the alarm sounded twice that day.

"We think it's important that workers, contractors and others be involved in developing procedures and in the training and the development of the activities themselves," said Holmstrom.

That's just one recommendation put forth by the CSB. The board also voted for national and state agencies to work together and put guidelines in place that would prohibit gas blowing at power plants and provide guidance for safe cleaning measures to prevent another accident like the one in Middletown.

"We have a chance, right now, to make a difference," said Michael Rosario, a representative from Local 777.

The recommendations by the CSB will be passed on to the national and state agencies that will need to vote on the recommendations to make them laws.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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