Easy OHS

Massive Blast in U.S. Gas Plant - 5 Dead - More Expected

Monday, February 08, 2010

ABC News has reported a massive explosion at the Kleen Energy Systems power plant at Middletown Connecticut 188km northeast of New York City.
 
The Force of the explosion was so powerful it shook the ground and was heard at least 16km away. Portions of the building were completely blown away … others were turned to rubble.
 
At a news conference a few hours after the explosion it was left to the mayor of Middletown, Sebastian Giuliano, to voice what everyone else had been wondering about:
 
"It was a gas explosion, terrorism has been ruled out," he said.

Meanwhile, an unnamed witness broke down in tears as he explained what he knew:

"They were working, they were testing. I just heard there was a gas explosion. I'm getting all kinds of phone calls from union brothers. It's horrible, man. We've got some people up there got little kids at home and we lost them."
 
As rescue workers picked their way through the debris, the governor of Connecticut authorised the state's urban search and rescue team to go into the site to help find victims.
 
There were 50 workers inside the building at the time of the blast and Dr Jonathan Bankoff, from nearby Middlesex Hospital, where victims were taken, said the injured were lucky to be alive:
 
"These were mostly blast and then secondary blast injuries so the initial injury from the explosion followed by being thrown, you know, upwards of 30 or 40 feet on to whatever surface they may have landed on ... the majority of the patients are telling that story."
 
At this stage there are five confirmed deaths and at least a dozen people injured.  Authorities reported they were unclear about exactly how many people were in the plant at the time the explosion occured.  It is expected further casualties will be found as rescue and emergency teams comb through the rubble.

It was reported that workers had been testing gas pipes when the explosion occurred.
 
Now families in the area mourn their loved ones who were working on a Sunday, trying to finish the job on time.

Safety Tip:
These type of incidents serve as a timely reminder to review your fire and explosion risk assessment and management. 

Key requirements for consideration:
1)  Have you performed an adequate assessment of fire and emergency risks?
2)  Do you have emergency procedures?
3)  For major hazard facilities have detailed engineering risk assessments / controls been implemented for alarms, isolation, shut down and monitoring systems?
4)  Have your staff been trained in shut down and evacuation procedures?
5)  Have you appointed and trained fire wardens?
6)  Have selected persons been trained in the use of on site fire fighting equipment?
7)  Are there adequate emergency communication / first aid systems and equipment?
8)  Do you have a system to record how many persons are in the building and that all persons are accounted for (eg:  staff list on and visitor book?)
9)  Do you have emergency contact details for family members?

If you require further advice regarding emergency management please contact EasyOHS.  It is a very important and often neglected area of workplace safety.

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