At Least Five Dead and Others Injured in Gas Explosion at Connecticut Power Plant

A massive gas explosion shook a power plant on the banks of the Connecticut River on February 7, 2010, killing at least five people and injuring at least twelve. The blast shattered windows, cracked walls, and damaged roofs a mile away. The $1 billion plant is one of the largest built in New England in recent years. It was about 95 percent complete and was to begin operations during the summer of 2010.

Authorities said the explosion occurred about 11:30 a.m. as workers at the Kleen Energy Systems plant were in the main power-generating room, conducting a test that involved blowing bursts of compressed air into gas pipes to remove dust and debris. The explosion blasted apart the room, ignited a fire, and sent a plume of smoke billowing into the sky. The rescue scene was chaotic, as dozens of firefighters, police officers, and ambulance crews descended on the plant, battled the blaze, and began a frantic search for survivors, using dogs to try to locate anyone in the rubble. Investigators from the local police, State Police, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives investigated.

One of those killed was Raymond Dobratz, a 57-year-old pipefitter from Old Saybrook, Connecticut, according to his son, David, who said his father had been working on the plant for the past year. Dobratz had served as commissioner for the Old Saybrook Police Department. Dobratz was married with three adult children and five grandchildren, according to Bill True, his friend of 35 years.

The US Chemical Safety Board said in a statement that it had just issued “urgent recommendations’’ that national fuel codes be changed to improve safety when gas pipes are being cleared of air, in a process known as purging. The board said there have been “multiple serious accidents during purging operations,’’ in recent months, including a natural gas explosion at a ConAgra Slim Jim production facility in Garner, N.C., in June, 2010, which killed four people and sent 67 to the hospital.

If you or a loved one has experienced a catastrophic injury due to a gas explosion, contact the Boston law office of Swartz & Swartz, P.C.. Our record in gas explosion cases is second to none. We have been handling these cases for more than three decades and have achieved record results in Massachusetts, New England and throughout the United States. We will answer your questions and protect your legal rights. Speak with a personal injury lawyer today by calling (617) 742-1900, or toll free outside of Boston, 1-800-545-3732.

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