Investigators still searching for cause of Jan. 10 blast –
By Patricia Beech –
Six people were injured on Tuesday, Jan. 10 in an explosion at the J.M. Stuart Power Plant between Aberdeen and Manchester. None of the injuries were life threatening according to Dayton Power and Light spokesperson Mary Ann Cable who said that production at the facility had been suspended indefinitely.
“The stacks are not operational while investigators continue their search for the source of the explosion,” Cable told The Defender. Investigators from DP&L, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), and the Ohio Fire Marshall’s office remained at the plant late Tuesday and Wednesday in an effort to determine the source of the blast that destroyed a large section of the facility.
More than 300 DP&L workers and contractors were accounted for and evacuated from the plant after the blast.
One worker leaving the scene stated, “We were about 250 yards away from the blast and it shook the floor underneath us. The important thing, though, is that everybody is safe.”
Emergency crews were called to the scene at approximately 1:10 p.m. Firefighters and EMT’s from Manchester, West Union, Ripley, Maysville, and the Ohio State Highway Patrol assisted DP&L’s in-house emergency responders. The injured were transported to Meadowview Regional Medical Center in Maysville. The facilities remaining employees were evacuated while first responders searched the building for injured personnel. Two of the injured were reportedly taken to other facilities for undisclosed treatment.
Manchester Fire Chief Rick Bowman, who headed up the rescue command center, said that the damage to facility was extensive.
“There were twisted steel girders and blown out walls,” said Bowman. “It blew a substantial piece of equipment to the ceiling and sent a powerful concussion wave through the building.”
Bowman said several employees some distance away were knocked off their feet by the impact of the blast.
Manchester residents seven miles from the plant reported hearing and feeling the impact of the explosion. “It felt like a bomb had gone off nearby, or like a sonic boom right above the house,” said Manchester Village Councilman Skip Wagner, “The whole house shook and you could feel the reverberation through your whole body.” Wagner and others also reported hearing “a persistent sound like a train traveling in and out of a tunnel” for several minutes after the initial blast.
The plant, which is partially owned Dynegy Inc., the AES Corporation, and American Electric Power, is currently under investigation for health related violations, but DP&L is contesting these findings.
OSHA has found several violations at the facility since 2009, resulting in thousands of dollars in fines according to a labor department spokesperson.
A September 2016 report called “America’s Super Polluters” by the Center for Public Integrity placed the Stuart plant in the top 22 list of 100 facilities with the greatest toxic-air and greenhouse gas emissions in 2014.
In recent weeks both the Stuart and the nearby Killen Station have indicated that they may be halting all operations at the coal-powered plants in the not too distant future.