While recognizing the ongoing criminal investigation, Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s commission tasked with determining the cause of the Super Bowl Sunday explosion at the Kleen Energy plant in Middletown released its findings Thursday.
The commission chaired by Senior U.S. District Judge Alan H. Nevas concluded that the explosion resulted from the cleaning or blowing of the natural gas pipeline. It also concluded that no agency had oversight of the gas blow process.
Six workers died and about 30 others were injured as a result of the Feb. 7 explosion.
The commission, which is the first of two tasked with investigating the blast, made its recommendations to a second commission that will be chaired by James “Skip” Thomas, the recently retired Commissioner of the state Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security. He also is a former Glastonbury police chief.
“It is for the Thomas Commission to determine what regulatory changes should be recommended,” Nevas said in a prepared statement.
What the Nevas commission also discovered was that there are no licensing requirements for the individuals who perform the cleaning or gas pipe blowing process. Further, the Nevas commission asked the Connecticut Siting Council to impose safety conditions upon any entity constructing a power plant that will employ the gas blow cleaning process.
Since the current permit for the power plant expires Nov. 30, the company must apply for a renewal or extension of the permit with the Siting Council. The commission recommended that if the Thomas Commission has made its recommendations by that time, it should instruct the council to attach conditions to the permit.
“We live in a highly regulated society. That something like this was not regulated is surprising,” Nevas said in an interview.
Not only did the commission talk about new regulations on the process, but members also discussed the number of hours workers at the plant had logged leading up to the procedure. Nevas said regulators should take into consideration who can be on the site and how many hours they have worked before approving a gas blow procedure.
“ A fatigue factor has to be considered,” Nevas said.
At the end of the day, Nevas said he’s confident Connecticut will become a national leader in the regulation of these types of facilities.
Click here to view aerial footage and coverage of the explosion.