Wednesday, February 12, 2014

BREAKING NEWS: Another Fire at Kleen Energy

Firefighters from South Fire District and Middletown are on the scene of a gas turbine fire at the Kleen Energy Plant, almost four years to the day after six workers lost their lives in a fire and explosion there.

So far, no reports of injuries.
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All the CT television stations have crews there or on their way.  Reports are that the visible fire is knocked down.  Unfortunately I'm not in town, but I'll keep updating this post.

9:10 am:  Here's a link to some previous Eye coverage of the 2010 explosion:  Kleen Archives
Also, the Courant did this great piece this week about safety regulations and massive reductions in OSHA fines from the original explosion/fire.

9:36 am:  News conference expected at 9:45

9:50 am: Fire chief says first call came in at 7:06, now under control. 

10:08 am: Several raw video clips of news conference from Middletown Press reporter Kaitlyn Schroyer:

10:18 am Mayor Drew says this fire is extremely different from explosion 4 years ago. Plant has not been evacuated. Fire officials say turbine malfunction resulted in oil leak that ignited. Fire is in enclosed room. Insulation around turbine is still smoldering. 

10:37 am  Kleen is supposed to notify neighbors about any emergencies. Hartford Courant is reporting that a text was sent just before 9am, long after the fire was called in. 
Do you live near the plant? When and how did you learn about the fire?  Let us know in the comments.

12:30 pm  Mayor Dan Drew tells The Eye that this was a 'completely different type of incident' from the 2010 explosion.  "At no point was the general public in danger" he said.  As for the notification of neighbors, he said he has heard that some people are complaining.  "I don't know what message or exactly what time the message went out,  but we'll be looking into it.  If there's something that needs to be fixed, we'll fix it," he said.  "We're obviously very sensitive about what happens on this site."

South District Fire Chief Robert Ross told reporters the fire was contained in one building and no evacuation was needed.  "We never reached a level with this incident that it ever required any notification of anybody off the property."

But apparently Kleen Energy thought it should notify the neighbors.  According to the company's web site, this message went out at 8:48 a.m., about an hour and a half after the second alarm.
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The system was put in place after the 2010 explosion.  It's purpose is explained thusly:
this is an automated system that can provide information via text message or email only, keeping you informed of emergency and out of the ordinary activities at the plant.
One would assume a 2-alarm fire would be, if not an emergency, certainly "out of the ordinary".  People who had their foundations cracked by the 2010 explosion certainly can't be blamed for being anxious when seeing and smelling an oily plume of smoke rising from the plant.

As noted above, the Mayor says he will look into what notifications happened when.

Drew also said that while crews will be working on smoldering insulation and mop-up for the rest of the day, he didn't anticipate any further formal updates today.

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