Tampa Electric Co. has been hit with a safety fine again, this time for $76,050 following an investigation into an October accident that injured two contractors at the utility’s Big Bend Power Station.
The violation was designated “serious.”
It is the second safety citation leveled against the utility by federal regulators in four months. The previous one stemmed from an accident that left five workers dead in 2017.
In the latest citation, issued April 20, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said Tampa Electric’s modifications to a door on the cooling system for a boiler at the Apollo Beach station led to the injury of two contractors, who worked for Zachary Industrial Inc. The men had been called to the plant to repair a water leak on the Unit 3 boiler’s cooling system.
When they arrived, a hatch on the equipment burst open, sending a column of water about two feet across directly at them.
The cover, OSHA’s citation said, “was not maintained to assure that all fastening components were free from corrosion.” It had been modified “without conducting an engineering analysis and evaluation to assure the modification maintained the manufacturer’s design.” The issue, the report said, was corrected during OSHA’s inspection.
Tampa Electric also did not safely shut down the machinery, the report said. Nor did it conduct periodic inspections of the procedures for powering it down.
In a statement, the utility said it is “closely” working with OSHA.
“Safety is and will remain Tampa Electric’s number-one priority,” said Tampa Electric spokeswoman Sylvia Vega.
Both of the injured workers, Donald Gansner and James Carter, are suing the utility. In the lawsuits, filed in Hillsborough County, the men said the force of the water split Gansner’s skull and hurt his leg, resulting in him needing a walker to get around. Carter’s spine, too, suffered a compression fracture. Gansner has not been able to return to work.
The workers’ lawyer, Robert Jordan, said the utility had cranked up the pressure in an effort to clean the condenser unit.