In the next five years, 125 new gas-fired power plants will be built throughout the country so Congress must pass standards for pipeline blow-downs and purges to prevent explosions like the one at the Kleen Energy power plant last February that left six men dead and at least 26 injured.
The plant was using a dangerous process to clean pipelines using natural gas instead of “mechanical pigs” or nitrogen.
Glenn Corbett, a national expert on safety codes and an associate professor of protection management at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said it was “unfathomable” to him that natural-gas blow-downs are still in vogue. He said a possible motive of plant owners and operators was to save money and time. He said the technical committees of the National Fire Protection Association, which establishes fire and safety codes, are disproportionately made up of industry representatives.
“There’s an imbalance,” Corbett said.
Unbelievably, there was no safety plan in place. Oh wait! That is completely believable and it happens all the time. Even in Denton, Texas where the Fire Department has no idea what chemicals are used in the hydraulic fracturing process so there can’t be much, if any, emergency plan in case of spills. Maybe Middletown learned from this blast.
South Fire District Chief Edward Badamo said that the relationship between his department and power plant officials “has grown more inclusive.”
You should read the testimony of Jodi Thomas, the widow of one of the workers. She said something about incentives to get the job completed fast and her husband’s hours going from 40 to 80+. Then she talked about profound heartache.