The U.S. Chemical Safety Board now says that the issues raised by the Feb. 7 blast at the Kleen Energy power plant could affect thousands of workers across the country, especially as additional natural gas plants are built and brought online.
See the statement from the agency's lead investigator here. Essentially, during a 'gas blow' to clean the pipes of obstructions or foreign substances, a huge amount of natural gas — enough to fill a basketball arena — was released into a courtyard area next to the plant. The Connecticut plant was under construction and was to be brought online within months. And, rather than dispersing, the gas settled or concentrated in this area until it hit an ignition source. Six workers died from the blast, with many more injured.
The CSB said the incident bears strong similarities to other natural gas incidents around the country, including last years explosion at ConAgra's Slim Jim plant. That blast occurred after natural gas was vented inside the plant during the installation of new equipment. The CSB outlined new procedures forgas purging that it hopes will be immediately adopted by codes and standards bodies, and across industry.