The U.S. Chemical Safety Board, which is investigating the explosion at the Kleen Energy power plant site in Middletown, says large amounts of natural gas were being vented at the time of the blast.
Blowing natural gas through new pipelines to remove debris is a common practice in the start up of natural gas power plants. Chemical Safety Board lead investigator Don Holmstrom says the workers were doing just that, at a very high pressure. when the accident occurred. Holmstrom says about 400,000 cubic feet of gas were released into the atmosphere during the ten minutes before the blast
“That’s enough natural gas to fill the entire volume of a pro-basketball arena with an explosive natural gas / air mixture from the floor to the ceiling.”
The Chemical Safety Board is urging natural gas power plants and other industries to stop venting high-pressure natural gas on work sites. The Board says they know of no specific safety codes or regulations that apply to gas-blows at power plants.