An explosion at Tampa Electric Co.’s Big Bend Power Station in Apollo Beach, Florida yesterday killed two people and critically injured four others. The crew of six, which included one employee and five contract workers, was performing routine maintenance on a tank that collects the waste product of burned coal, called slag, when the explosion occurred around 4:20. p.m. on June 29.
Killed in the blast were Christopher Irvin, 40, of Tampa and Michael McCort, 60, of Riverview. McCort was a Tampa Electric employee. Gary Marine, Jr., 32, and Frank Lee Jones, 55, both of Tampa; and Antonio Navarrete, 21, and Armando J. Perez, 56, both of Wimauma sustained third-degree burns and other life-threatening injuries and were taken to Tampa General Hospital. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has joined the ongoing investigation into the cause of the incident.
— FOX 13 Tampa Bay (@FOX13News) June 29, 2017
In a June 30 press release, Tampa Electic provided a brief summary of the accident, stated that the investigation could take weeks or months and that it would not be providing additional information “until further notice.” The company simply stated that one employee and one contract worker were killed and that four others were injured in an industrial accident that OSHA was investigating. “Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with the families of everyone who was touched by this incident,” CEO Gordon Gillette, said in the statement: “Safety is the No. 1 priority at Tampa Electric, and we are working hard to determine exactly what happened and why. We will be conducting a complex investigation to determine the root cause.”
Molten slag can reach temperatures of 1,000 degrees. When coal is burned to make electricity, the slag that is generated as a byproduct and globs of it drop into cooling tanks where it hardens into a glass-like substance that is collected and sold to manufacturers of abrasive materials and roofing materials.
On June 29, the crew was working to clear a blockage in the tank when something happened and molten slag rushed out at them covering an area that was 40 feet in diameter and six inches deep. The two men who died were covered in slag when they were discovered by first responders.
The attorneys at Pritzker Hageman represent injured workers and the families of those whose loved ones have died in workplace accidents. Fred Pritzker and Eric Hageman help clients nationwide hold corporate wrongdoers accountable for personal injury and wrongful death. Contact them for a free consultation, or call toll-free at 1 (888) 377-8900.