State Representatives Christine Carpino (R-Cromwell, Middletown, Portland), Linda Orange (D-Colchester and East Haddam), and Matt Lesser (D-Middletown) hailed House passage of legislation they sponsored that will incorporate measures recommended by the Thomas Commission to improve safety at power plants in Connecticut. The Thomas Commission was formed in the aftermath of last year’s explosion at the Kleen Energy construction site in Middletown.
“While it is impossible to prevent all accidents, this bill adopting the recommendations of the Thomas Commission will go a long way in ensuring public safety in the construction and operation of natural gas energy plants,” said Rep. Christie Carpino (R-Cromwell, Middletown, Portland), a co-sponsor of the legislation. “With a prohibition on ‘blowing’ the gas lines to clear them, greater levels of inspection, and increased transparency and public input in the process of locating these plants, we can help make certain a tragedy like the one last year at the Kleen Energy Plant isn’t repeated.”
Rep. Orange, who lost close friend Ron Crabb in the explosion, said, “If I could, I would name this bill ‘Dillon’s Law’ after Dillon Thomas Crabb, the seven-year-old son of my friends Ron Crabb and Jodi Thomas. Dillon is so proud of his mother’s hard work and dedication to craft this legislation. We owe it to Dillon and the other family members and friends touched by the Kleen Energy tragedy to make sure avoidable workplace accidents are a thing of the past.”
Six people were killed and more than 30 were injured in the Kleen Energy explosion.
“The investigations into last year’s accident found that the explosion could and should have been avoided. We owe it to the victims and their families to never let a disaster like it happen again,” said Rep. Matt Lesser (D-Middletown). “I have worked on this legislation for over a year and I hope it can bring some small comfort to the workers at the plant and the residents who live nearby.”
Rep. Lesser noted some residents living near the plant complained about odors and smoke over the weekend, reminding the community of the need for increased oversight.
The bill (House Bill 5802) incorporates recommendations of the Thomas Commission, including banning the use of flammable gases to conduct “gas blows” at power plants. Gas blows, which use highly pressurized natural gas to clean pipes of debris, were found to have caused the Kleen Energy explosion. The legislation sets a fine of up to $100,000 and up to two years in prison for violations.
As part of the license requirements of all future power plants, the legislation requires new electricity plants to pay for special inspectors to assist local fire marshals in reviewing building plans and conducting inspections of the sites. The bill also requires the Connecticut Siting Council to consult with the Departments of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and other agencies before approving any plans.
The legislation now awaits action by the State Senate.