A February explosion in Middletown, CT, that killed six workers, injured 50 others and ravaged an under-construction energy plant has prompted OSHA to issue its third-largest fine ever.
OSHA has cited three construction companies and 14 subcontractors for 371 safety violations, totaling $16.6 million in penalties.
The Feb. 7, 2010, explosion at the Kleen Energy plant construction site was felt as far as 40 miles away.
OSHA officials say the construction companies cut corners to gain a $19 million incentive if they finished construction early on the plant. Published reports say in the weeks and months leading up to the explosion, employees were working seven-day, 84-hour weeks.
In late June, a U.S. Chemical Safety Board investigation revealed the explosion was most likely caused when natural gas was used during a routine gas purging procedure. The gas found an ignition source. Welding and other work was being performed nearby.
O&G Industries, the project’s general contractor, has been issued 119 willful and 17 serious citations with penalties totaling $8.3 million. Keystone Construction and Maintenance was issued 94 willful and 16 serious citations with fines of $6.6 million. Bluewater Energy Services, the commissioning and startup contractor for the plant, was issued 12 willful citations and 8 serious citations totaling $896,000. In addition, 14 subcontractors were also cited and fined.
O&G says it plans to contest the fines.
As a result of the explosion, OSHA will be issuing a warning letter to natural gas power plant operators regarding the dangerous practice of cleaning fuel gas piping using natural gas.