Two contractors died after inhaling toxic fumes that also injured three other workers in an underground pit at a western Pennsylvania power plant early Wednesday morning.
Police said the Enerfab Corp. workers were in a “confined, well-type” area at the Bruce Mansfield Power Station in Beaver County, PA, shortly before 1 a.m. Wednesday when they removed an elbow joint in a pipe, releasing hydrogen sulfide gas into the air in the confined space.
“We were told that it can make you sick — irritate, sore throat, headache, fever — if you’re directly exposed to it,” State Police Lt. Eric Hermick said. “If you’re too close to it, then obviously it’s deadly.”
Police said 34-year-old Kevin Bachner and 42-year-old John Gorchock, both of Pittsburgh, were unable to make it out of the well and died.
Three other workers — identified by police as Mark Wagner, 31, of Pulaski, Thomas Cantwell, 31, of Crafton, and Michael Gorchock, 43, of Pittsburgh — were taken to area hospitals.
The plant in Shippingport, about 35 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, is FirstEnergy’s largest coal-fired plant. FirstEnergy spokeswoman Stephanie Walton says the plant remains operational.
State troopers and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are investigating the fatal accident at the power station,