Industrial Firefighting

Historical Industrial Fire: The Kleen Energy Explosion

U.S. Chemical Safety Board/YouTube

Source: IFSTA

Around 11:00 am on February 7, 2010, Kleen Energy Systems power plant exploded with an extreme force. This plant was located in Middletown, Connecticut, where it was scheduled to open in just a few months. The plant was said to be one of the largest facilities to be built in the New England region and had begun construction in 2008.

The workers were purging natural gas lines to prepare for the grand opening of the plant when a fire erupted, killing five workers and injuring many more. There were around 50-60 estimated workers present at the time, but this number cannot be verified.

Purging gas lines can be a very dangerous procedure due to the high pressure that must be used to administer the cleaning, as well as the flammability of natural gas. The explosion took place in the largest part of the building, which housed generators, fuel tanks, and other power equipment; consequently, this incident completely destroyed the progress they had made on the building.

The fire enveloped the scene for hours but fire and rescue teams tackled the disaster quickly. Surrounding residents equated the impact of this explosion to an earthquake, as the effects reached around 30 miles away from Middletown. It was concluded that the cause was a natural gas explosion; however, it was the first accident to occur onsite since the construction had begun. As a result of this incident, a field hearing took place before the Committee on Education and Labor in order to address this unfortunate event and prevent future tragedies.

More detailed information on the Kleen Energy Power Plant can be found using the following verified sources:

New York Times Article

NPR Article

CSB.gov

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