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Plant Collapse Kills 1, Injures 1

Monday, February 18, 2013

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One worker has died and another has been injured after the collapse of a coal-fired power plant being demolished in Pampa, TX.

The workers were hit by pieces of the former Celanese Plant complex that fell about 40 feet, authorities said.

The plant's coal boiler and 300-foot stack were imploded Dec. 16, and workers have been working to clear the site since then.

Worker Trapped

The building collapse occurred about 2:40 p.m. Feb. 9, the Gray County Sheriff’s Office said.

Celanese Plant Demolition
Sportscast17 via YouTube

The accident occurred during cleanup following implosion of plant structures on Dec. 16.

The sheriff's office, Pampa EMS, Pampa Fire Department and Hoover Volunteer Fire Department responded to the scene, the sheriff’s office told amarillo.com.

One worker was transported to Pampa Regional Medical Center after the collapse, but the other was trapped in the debris, authorities said.

The area was initially unsafe for rescue personnel because a part of the building covering a conveyor chute was still attached to the building, authorities said.

By the time emergency workers were cleared to reach the trapped worker, it was too late.

Jesus J. Ramirez-Chavez, 44, of Pampa, TX,Ramirez-Chavez was pronounced dead at the scene about 5:30 p.m., the sheriff’s office said.

The other worker was not identified.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating.

Development Plans

The building collapse occurred amid the Pampa Energy Center’s project to demolish a former coal-fired power plant, said Ron Nelson of Open Range Engineering, the company that manages the site.

Pampa Economic Development Corp., which owns the industrial park, planned the demolition because of lack of interest in developing the coal-fired plant.

The 4,000-acre site, with more than 40 buildings, was purchased in 2007 by Australian investment bank Babcock & Brown in 2007 and renamed Pampa Energy Center LLC, according to the Amarillo Globe News.

Celanese plant collapse
newschannel10.com

The body of Jesus J. Ramirez-Chavez was recovered hours after the collapse.

The firm planned to turn the site into a 160-megawatt coal plant, but "later declared its shares worthless and began selling off assets," the newspaper reported.

Chemical maker Celanese, which once employed hundreds, originally opened in 1952.

'Somewhat Risky'

The current demolition project involved two contractors, Bayville, NJ-based Universal Wrecking Corp. and Iron Rock, who were working at the time for Open Range, the local CBS affiliate reported.

"Demolition of equipment by nature is somewhat risky or difficult," said Nelson.

Nevertheless, Nelson told the affiliate, the two subcontractors were selected for their clean safety records.

"You know that was part of the process in selecting contractors as selecting people that had zero OSHA incident ratings or things in the past," Nelson told the station. "We've hired what we believe to be competent, capable people that have had a very unfortunate accident."

He added: "We have great concern for the family and it's a very disappointing situation we find ourselves in. We're going to do our very best to make sure we don't find ourselves in a situation like this ever again."

   

Tagged categories: Building owners; Demolition; Facility Managers; Fatalities; Health and safety; OSHA; Power Plants; Workers

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