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Dispute over Blast Investigation Closer to Resolution
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Middletown fire officials are continuing to investigate the cause of the explosion that killed five men Sunday at a construction site of a power plant. A conflict over whether federal safety investigators can have access to the site is closer to being resolved.

Investigators with the federal chemical safety board have met with the mayor of Middletown and the city’s police chief. The Safety Board also held a conference call with the U.S. Attorney’s office and the State Police Commissioner. At issue is whether federal safety investigators can gain access to the site currently under the jurisdiction of local and state fire marshals, who are treating it as a crime scene. Daniel Horowitz is with the  U.S. Chemical Safety Board.
 
“Our hope is that we can move forward now towards a written agreement covering site access  and the handling  and disposition of the evidence that will  serve the interests of all the parties.”

Horowitz says state officials told federal investigators they could now interview any witnesses.

Meanwhile in Washington DC the House Committee on Education and Labor is calling for a Congressional hearing to find out how to prevent this type of accident in the future. Congressman Joe Courtney, who is a member of the committee says it should consider whether the best rules are in place so the Chemical Safety Board and local fire and police can all do their jobs.

“I mean we’re all on the same team here and we want to do what’s right for the victms, the community and obviously for the industry as a whole.”

Back in Middletown structural engineers, who work federal investigators, are expected to start checking the safety of the blast site.

For WNPR, I'm Nancy Cohen.