July 7, 2017
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Apollo Beach, FL – Two workers were killed and four critically burned at the TECO Big Bend electric-power plant near Tampa June 29, in an accident the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers says was preventable.
“This incident could have been avoided—period,” IBEW Local 108 said in a statement June 29. “It’s time to stop using contractors to do ‘routine maintenance’ when the safety of this maintenance has been questioned by employees.” The two dead were Christopher Irvin, 40, who worked for contractor Gaffin Industrial, and a longtime TECO employee whose family did not want his name released. The four injured also worked for Gaffin. TECO said the accident at the 375-megawatt coal-fired plant happened during routine maintenance when slag spilled out of a tank at the base of one of its smokestacks. The tank was used to collect slag, a glassy substance formed when burning-hot coal ashes fall into a tank of water, to be recycled for use in abrasives. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced June 30 that it had opened an investigation into the fatal accident, the second at the plant in three years. A construction and maintenance contractor was killed in a fall in 2014. Read more
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