7 Feb 2010, 2:19pm
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At Least 2 Dead, 7 Hurt in Connecticut Blast

By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT and JOSEPH BERGER, NY Times, February 7, 2010 [here]

A massive gas explosion Sunday rocked a power plant under construction in Middletown, Conn., where more than 50 people were working, setting off tremors that were felt miles away. Early reports indicated that at least two people were killed and 12 injured, according to authorities.

Al Santostefano, the Middletown deputy fire marshal, said the explosion, at about 11:25 a.,m., occurred as workers at the nearly completed Kleen Energy Systems generating plant were trying to suck natural gas out of the plant’s pipes, a procedure known as a “blow down.” He said the explosion and the resulting fire was contained to a single building known as the Power Block. …

State Representative Matt Lesser, who represents a district adjacent to the plant site and lives a little over a mile from it , said he was enjoying a morning cup of coffee when he felt his apartment building shake. …

The 620-megawatt plant on the Connecticut River was to have been both gas- and oil-fired. According to a report about the project’s financing, construction began in February 2008 and was scheduled to be completed this November.

Mr. Lesser said the project was being built on the top of a hill on an old feldspar quarry. He said that the facility was due to go into operation this spring and that tests were being conducted in preparation for that. Mr. Lesser added that the cost of the project — which he said had been delayed “due to a number of regulatory hurdles” — was about $1 billion. … [more]

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