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Relatives of dead and injured still waiting for compensation seven years after US power plant blast

22 February 2017

An investigation by the Hartford Courant concludes that many of those affected by the February 2010 explosion at the Kleen Energy Systems power station in Middletown, Connecticut, have yet to receive any of their promised compensation. The blast killed six and injured up to 60 others, and the Courant claims 22 people, 17 employees and five spouses, are still waiting for payment.<

The Middletown plant - Image: Kleen Energy
The Middletown plant - Image: Kleen Energy

An arbitrator ruled in January 2016 that the employees and their families are owed $34,385,426. The arbitrator found Keystone Construction, the company hired by general contractor O&G Industries to install, test and flush the plant’s piping system, strictly liable for the explosion. The arbitrator's awards range from $5.5 million to $377,240.

In addition, the arbitrator ruled 33 homeowners whose properties were damaged are owed $614,674, according to court records. They have also not received the money, the Courant says.

The reason for this is a dispute between the contractors and insurers over liability, currently being fought over in the courts.

The explosion took place after Keystone used natural gas to purge debris from the plant’s pipework. Investigators found that the vent pipes were placed in a horizontal position, so the gas built up in the courtyard, rather than dispersing into the atmosphere. There had also been multiple possible ignition sources in the courtyard.

The Courant says new details have come to light because of the suit over insurance payouts. These include evidence of a warning from the state government's Connecticut Gas Pipeline Unit to Kleen Energy and O&G not to use natural gas to purge the pipes. The Unit recommended the use of either nitrogen or compressed air.

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