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OSHA News Release
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Region 1


Please note: Information in some news releases may be out of date or may no longer reflect OSHA policy.
Region 1 News Release: 08-639-BOS/BOS 2008-141
Wed., May 14, 2008
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: 617-565-2074


U.S. Department of Labor's OSHA cites Dominion Energy New England following fatal November steam explosion in Salem, Mass.

METHUEN, Mass. - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Dominion Energy New England for alleged serious violations of safety standards following a fatal Nov. 6, 2007, steam explosion at the Salem Harbor Power Station in Salem, Mass. Three employees were killed by steam and hot ash when boiler tubes ruptured in the lower vestibule/dead air space of boiler Unit #3 in the plant's boiler house.

OSHA's investigation found that the company failed to take effective steps to protect employees against the hazards of burns and other bodily injuries from hot ash and steam as a result of ruptured or leaking boiler tubes and piping. Specifically, the boiler's lower vestibule/dead air space area, where the rupture occurred, had not been entered or inspected in more than nine years, and entry had been prevented by the accumulation of ash and debris over that period of time.

"The company must initiate and maintain effective safeguards to identify and eliminate such hazards, both to protect its employees and to prevent future leaks, ruptures or explosions," said Rosemarie Ohar, OSHA's acting area director in Methuen. "Proper inspection and maintenance are critical to detecting potentially dangerous conditions."

Corrective measures would include operating, maintaining and inspecting boilers in accordance with the latest industry standards, manufacturer guidelines and guidance, determining an inspection schedule, and cleaning out ash and debris from the lower vestibule/dead air space.

OSHA's inspection also identified several other hazards not directly related to the explosion. These included potential crushing hazards from an improperly installed and equipped overhead hoist system, incorrect storage of compressed gas cylinders, no certified hazard assessment for removing deposits of material from boilers, an unattended powered industrial truck left with its engine running and several electrical hazards.

Dominion Energy New England was issued a total of 10 serious citations carrying a total of $46,800 in proposed fines. A serious citation is issued when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Dominion Energy New England has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to meet with OSHA or to contest its citations and fines before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The inspection was conducted by OSHA's Methuen Area Office (telephone: 617-565-8110), which covers Essex County, Mass.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace for their employees. OSHA"s role is to promote the safety and health of America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual process improvement in workplace safety and health. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.


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Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.