An explosive fire in an upstate New York wastewater treatment plant has killed one worker and left another with serious burns. The man who died suffered third-degree burns to most of his body, and had been transported to a burn center in Boston. The other worker suffered burns to his arms and face and was released from Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse.
The worker who died was a steamfitter working for a subcontractor at the treatment plant. Although local police are not investigating, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has opened an inquiry to determine whether workplace safety violations contributed to the explosion. The police chief has stated that his department had not identified any criminal activity that could be tied to the accident.
The Village of Canastota hired Hubbard Construction to replace the digester gas piping on the old plant. The man who died had worked for Joy Process Mechanical, the subcontractor hire by Hubbard to complete the piping replacement, for nearly 30 years. When the accident occurred, he was welding a new pipe into the tank when something caught fire.
The accident occurred late in the day, and the men had been working in the tank all day without encountering any problems.
Work at the treatment plant has stopped and there is no word about when the project will resume. A meeting between the construction project manager and village officials is being scheduled to discuss the situation.
Source: The Post Standard, “Bernhards Bay man dies after suffering burns in ‘explosion’ at Canastota wastewater treatment plant,” Sep. 16, 2013.