Sunday, February 7, 2010

Explosion update: Five Still Missing

I just returned from River Road at the Rushford Center where press and officials are gathered as emergency crews continue to work at the Kleen Energy plant.

According to Common Council member Ron Klattenberg who had just returned from the site, it was a scene of devastation.  He reported that officials at the site confirmed that two workers had died, and that five are still missing.  Part of the problem, he noted, was that workers logs were that officials were attempting to identify all who were on the site, according to logs, and to account for those workers.  About fifty workers are reported to have been injured.

According to Klattenberg, who has been at the scene for hours, along with Democratic Councilman Thomas Serra, and State Senator Paul Doyle, the accident was caused when gas workers were purging the lines and wind caused a back draft of gas which was ignited by nearby welding torches.

The force of the blast tore the walls from the main building on the complex, leaving only steel supporting structures begind.

Serra said that he had been in touch with the mayor to assure him that the council stood fully behind him to do all that is necessary to handle the emergency.

Serra also indicated that several houses in the vicinity of Kleen Energy have reported damage to foundations and walls.

Across the river on Portland's Wellwyn Drive, resident John Salafia explained that he was in Middletown shopping when the explosion occured.  His wife, a nurse at Middlesex Hospital called to tell him about the blast.  When he returned to his neighborhood, which has a direct view of the site across the river, his neighbors told him of a powerful blast concussion that knocked pictures from the walls, and a huge ball of flame as the gas in the plant ignited.

I was on the street five days ago taking shots of the plant for a story I planned to do on this neighborhood.  My before (left) and after (right) shots are below.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I don't know about welders - surely they would never be welding in a area where gas it to be purged.
What did happen was that heaters were inadvertantly left on - these were open flame gas heaters, on thermostats.
When the thermostats caused the heaters to come on - the gases from the purge ignited. Why are they ignoring this? There is a very serious breach in safety protocol which took place.

A Fire Investigator said...

Anonymous 6:28--You apparently have info that nobody else has. Also, your info is wrong so please don't speculate on gossip. No cause and origin has been established by the City, State, ATF, FBI, or anyone else.If you are privy to insider info, please share it with the proper authorities. You are not doing the grieving families any favors by spreading rumor.

Anonymous said...

Ed- I was there. I don't remember seeing Serra, Klattenberg, and Doyle conducting an investigation.
As of Sunday, 11:00 P.M. the cause is STILL undetermined.Don't assign blame until the facts are in.

Anonymous said...

'A Fire Investigator' - are you saying that open-flame gas heaters were Not on during the purge?

Anonymous said...

Not allowing the US Chemical Safety Board to be present during the investigation is questionable. No one has more experience or expertise in evaluating this type of explosion; certainly not the local police or fire departments, even the State does not have experts comparable to the US Chem Safety board. Rationalisations such as "Its not their jusidiction" fails to answer the question: Do we want to find out the facts here? How can expert assistance be a problem?

A Fire Investigator said...

To Anonymous 8:10-
No, I said open flame heaters HAVE NOT YET BEEN DETERMINED TO BE THE CAUSE OF THE EXPLOSION.How can you exclude welders?

Eye Spy (Anthony R. Lancia, Jr.) said...

As one of the first arriving units on scene I to agree with the premature speculation of the cause of this tragic action to be not only unprofessional but also quite heartless to the families affected by this tragedies. If we are to report facts then let us bring forth the source of this knowledge. Shame on the speculators.

Anonymous said...

Anthony Lancia;
Reasonable speculation does not in any way harm victims’ families. However, failure to fully investigate reasonable speculation does. There is a real possibility that open flame heaters ignited volatile gasses. This can become an issue with various investigations, particularly insurance. Beyond the sad reality of injured and killed, someone owns a billion dollar junk pile. These investigations will determine who.

Anthony R Lancia Jr said...

February 9, 2010 9:22 AM


Pure speculation is just that, non- factual jargon spread by those who seek recoginiton. You obviously are not one of the victims nor related to any so as I have said, speculations carry consequence, unkown to all and painful for some.
Keep your speculations in your head.

Anonymous said...

Speculation on a blog is just that, speculation. Mr. Lancia, please do not lower yourself into this arguement, as your reputation will suffer for it. Sometimes we as fire professionals must rise above these he said she said issues. Im proud of what you did, just let it go. People feel the need to lend opinion, even if its purely speculative.