Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Companies point fingers at one another over Kleen Energy blast

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. - The owners of the Middletown electric power plant where an explosion killed six people in 2010 say a Texas engineering company's faulty pipeline design led to the disaster, records from a federal lawsuit show.
It is among the claims made in documents submitted in response to the suit, filed in August by a New Jersey man injured in the February explosion. In those documents, companies involved in the construction of the plant and the process of cleaning its pipes lay blame on each other and on companies not previously cited by the federal government for safety violations.
The plant owner, Kleen Energy, contends that Texas company WorleyParsons "designed the main gas fuel supply line in such a way that it could not be properly cleaned with natural gas in order to meet the turbine manufacturer's specifications.''
WorleyParsons' engineering design created "the potentially dangerous condition that ultimately led to the explosion," Kleen energy charges.
The blast happened as natural gas was being forced through pipes to clean out debris.
Kleen Energy also blames Bluewater Energy Solutions, claiming that the Atlanta-based company hired by O&G Industries, the general contractor as well as part owner of the plant, to oversee the "gas blows" failed to properly supervise the operation, failed to protect workers and allowed the natural gas to escape and eventually explode.
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a total of $16.6 million in fines against O&G Industries, Keystone Construction and Maintenance Services, a major subcontractor, as well as against Bluewater.
The federal investigation found 119 violations and concluded the companies cut corners to reach construction deadlines quicker, failed to prepare workers for the dangerous gas-blow procedure and created the deadly conditions that led to the massive explosion.

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