AK Power Plant Incident Leads to Safety Fines

Wednesday, April 5, 2017 @ 02:04 PM gHale

Three different companies representing a multi-employer construction site at an Alaska power plant expansion are facing 24 health and safety violations, said officials at the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

Universal Energy received 13 willful citations with fines of $182,000 relating to the department’s inspection at the Municipal Light and Power Plant 2A Expansion project, located in Anchorage.

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Price Gregory International, Inc. received five willful citations with associated fines of $280,000, and Quanta Power Generation, Inc. received six willful citations with associated fines of $420,000.

Municipal Light and Power did not receive any citations because of their prompt evacuation of the site when unsafe conditions were identified.

On September 17, a pressure relief valve ended up removed from a steam piping system and the system went into service without any other safeguards present. Two days later, an event occurred that caused sudden high pressures and violent shaking of the system. Municipal Light and Power asked Universal Energy operators to shut down the system to prevent a catastrophic failure, which could have resulted in injuries or fatalities and hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage. However, operators delayed shut-down, causing Municipal Light and Power to evacuate their employees until the area was safe.

“Jeopardizing worker safety with hazardous work environments will be met with strong enforcement action,” said Labor Commissioner Heidi Drygas. “Lives could have been lost in this incident, and these employers must be held to the safety standards our laws demand.”

The citations, which carry the maximum penalty allowed under the law, ended up issued as “willful” due to the indifference the employers displayed toward occupational safety and health standards and the suppression of employee concerns regarding an unsafe work environment.

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