2012 plant explosion Struthers abates 7 of 10 citations

By jeanne starmack



The city has satisfied the state in abating seven of 10 citations that resulted from an explosion last March that severely burned two workers who eventually died.

The city had until Nov. 1 to correct conditions at its waste-treatment plant that resulted in seven of the citations, and it did so as quickly as possible, said Struthers Mayor Terry Stocker.

The remaining three citations were to be addressed by Feb. 1. Stocker said, however, that they cannot be abated until engineering, equipment installation and construction is finished at the plant, which was damaged by the March 1 blast.

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation extended that deadline until the end of the year, Stocker said.

The explosion occurred while Ken Stiver, the plant’s leading maintenance worker, and Gary Wilson, an assistant maintenance worker, were repairing wiring in the plant’s gas-compression room.

A spark ignited methane gas that had built up in the room.

The blast burned the men over 95 percent of their bodies. They spent weeks in the burn unit of a Pittsburgh hospital before dying of their injuries.

The city has addressed training for workers, subcontracting work on live control-circuit parts rather than having plant workers do that work, providing access to written electrical energy-control procedures, ensuring proper instruments and insulated tools are used when working with parts that carry electrical currents, and making proper protective clothing available.

The three citations not yet addressed include the exposure of workers to hazards of fire and explosion from the ignition of methane gas.

The state recommends evaluating wastewater collection and treatment operations to identify where gas is accumulating.

The state also identified a need to give workers enough space to work away from grounded and ungrounded pipes.

Also, electrical switches, circuits and other equipment need to be labeled to warn workers of potential hazards.

Those three issues will be corrected by the time construction is finished at the plant in October, Stocker said.

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