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Florida power plant incident kills two, injures four

30 June 2017

Local officials said an industrial incident at a Florida power plant on June 29 killed two people and seriously injured four others. Initial reports said molten coal slag spilled onto workers as they tried to clear a blockage in a slag tank during routine maintenance at the Tampa Electric Co (TECO) Big Bend power plant at Apollo Beach, south of Tampa.

Big Bend Power Station - Image: Wikimedia
Big Bend Power Station - Image: Wikimedia

Two people were pronounced dead at the scene, two of the injured were airlifted to a Tampa hospital and the other two were taken to hospital by road, officials said. Several of the casualties were contractors, according to local news sources.

The coal-fired generating unit where the incident took place was closed, but three others were operational following the incident.

Molten slag is created when coal is burned for electricity. Chunks of it fall into cooling tanks containing water and the residue, which is black and glasslike, is recycled and used in sand blasting and roofing. The high temperatures involved turn the water to steam, creating high pressure within the enclosed tanks.

Twenty years ago, four TECO workers were seriously injured during routine maintenance of a slag tank at a plant in Port Sutton.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has started an investigation into the incident.

Update: On July 20, hospital officials announced the death of the fifth contractor involved in this incident. Two contractors were killed at the time of the incident and two others died of their injuries in early July.

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