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4 Firms Cited in Death at Nuke Plant

Monday, September 30, 2013

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Facility owners, managers and contractors alike are being held responsible for a crane collapse that killed one worker and injured eight others at Arkansas's Nuclear One Power Plant in March.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued a total of 26 safety violations and $175,000 in fines against:

  • Precision Surveillance Corp., of East Chicago, IN;
  • Bigge Crane and Rigging Co., of San Leandro, CA;
  • Siemens Power Generation Inc., of Orlando, FL; and
  • Entergy Operations Inc., of Russellville, AR.

Fatal Collapse

The accident occurred March 31 at Arkansas's only nuclear power plant, in Russellville, about 70 miles northwest of Little Rock. Plant owner Entergy said in a statement that a 500-ton generator stator had fallen during an operation to replace the component at Arkansas Nuclear One.

Wade Walters Precision Surveillance
Family photo via River Valley Leader (left); Precision Surveillance Corp. (right)

Wade Walters, 24, was an iron worker for Precision Surveillance Corp. of Russellville, AR. The company provides heavy lift and equipment transport services. Walters was killed March 31 when a crane dropped a million-pound component.

The falling component ruptured a water pipe, causing water to flood the plant's switchgear. The mishap knocked out power to all of unit one and part of unit two.

The accident killed Precision Surveillance iron worker Wade Walters, 24, of Russellville.

A wrongful-death suit filed this summer by Walters' family alleges that Entergy was unable to use the contractor that normally moved the stator. Facing a fine if the operation was delayed, Entergy contracted with Bigge, the low bidder, to do the job, Nuclear News reported.

The operation to move the stator had been attempted unsuccessfully and aborted the day before the accident. The crane was built specifically for the job, but no load test was conducted on the floor that the crane had to cross, the plaintiffs say.

Workers also noticed that the crane would not clear a guard rail, so Walters and others were asked to cut the railing before the second attempt the next day. After they did, "the beams of the crane bent and fell, collapsing on top of itself, and dropping the stator equipment through the turbine deck floor," Nuclear News said.

Arkansas Nuclear Plant
Wikimedia Commons / Edibobb

Both units at Entergy Nuclear's Arkansas plant were shut down after the accident March 31.

One of the beams struck Walters. Four of the other eight workers involved were seriously injured.

Citations

OSHA issued these citations.

Precision Surveillance Corp. , a provider of heavy lift and transport equipment for industrial plants,  was cited for one serious violation with a penalty of $6,300. The citation documents allege that the company failed to provide an effective communications system to alert the operator or signnalman through an emergency stop signal.

OSHA records show no information for Precision Surveillance in the last 10 years.

Bigge Crane and Rigging Co.  was cited for nine serious violations and penalties totaling $56,700. Citation documents accuse the company of failing to ensure that the temporary crane was appropriately designed and installed. The crane did not meet ANSI design specifications and carried no rated load label as required, according to OSHA.

OSHA records show 22 other inspections of Bigge Crane worksites, but no violations, in the last 10 years.

Siemens Power Generation was also cited for nine serious violations and fined $63,000. Citation documents allege a wide range of crane-related hazards and violations.

OSHA records show 10 prior inspections for Siemens Power over the past 10 years. A total of 15 violations were issued after five of those inspections.

Entergy Operations was cited for seven serious violations carrying a total of $49,000 in fines. Citation documents accuse the facility owner of a variety of crane violations, including failure to test the temporary crane before it was used.

Arkansas Nuclear One
Flickr / Topato

The accident occurred when a generator stator fell as it was being moved out of the turbine building, Entergy reported. The company received 7 serious citations.

OSHA also said the company failed to inspect the crane after a part was replaced and before it was subjected to the million-pound load. OSHA said the crane was "uniquely configured and designed."

OSHA records show two previous inspections of Entergy in the past 10 years.

Serious violations reflect a substantial probability of death or serious injury from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Preventable Tragedy

“This tragedy could have been prevented, had the employer ensured vital safeguards to protect workers from potential hazards and proper planning for a project of this magnitude,” said Carlos Reynolds, OSHA’s area director in Little Rock.

“OSHA will hold the employers accountable for not meeting their workplace safety and health responsibilities.”

The companies have 15 business days from receipt of their citations to contest them.

   

Tagged categories: Access; Accidents; Building owners; Contractors; Cranes; Facility Managers; Fatalities; Nuclear Power Plants; Power Plants; Workers

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