The towering stacks of the TECO (Tampa Electric) Big Bend Power Station in Apollo Beach can be seen from almost anywhere in the Tampa Bay area. It even has a discharge canal that is a state and federally designated manatee sanctuary—its warm water attracts manatees who in turn attract tourists to the “Manatee Viewing Center” there.
But on Thursday, June 29th disaster struck at the TECO plant.
When emergency workers responded to a late afternoon reported explosion, they found six people with severe burns at Unit 2—one of the four coal-fired units at the plant. Two of the people were declared dead at the scene, and the other four were taken to Tampa General Hospital with life-threatening injuries, according toThe Tampa Bay Times.
Officials with the Big Bend plant stated that d the disaster occurred as workers were conducting “routine maintenance” on a tank which collects coal ‘slag’—a waste product formed from burned coal being mixed with water—which can reach well above 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
The two workers who died in the explosion were found covered with the ‘slag.’
The burns “…would be categorized as very severe,” said Corey Dierdoff, spokesperson for Hillsborough County Fire Rescue.
“We are looking into what happened,” Cherie Jacobs, a Tampa Electric spokeswoman, said after the explosion. “There are few details.”
Cherie Jacobs, a spokeswoman at Tampa Electric, which operates the Big Bend Power Plant, on Thursday. She said the accident occurred during “routine maintenance.” Credit Luis Santana/Tampa Bay Times
Names were released by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office after next of kin were notified:
- Christopher Irvin (Deceased) age 40, Tampa
- Michael McCort (Deceased) age 60, Riverview
- Gary Marine Jr. (life-threatening injuries) age 32, Tampa
- Antonio Navarrete (life-threatening injuries) age 21, Wimauma
- Frank Lee Jones (life-threatening injuries) age 55, Tampa
- Armando J Perez (life-threatening injuries) age 56, Wimauma
OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) was formed in 1970 to help prevent workers from being killed or injured at work. As the federal agency that investigates accidents in the workplace, they opened an investigation into the latest Big Bend incident.
Yes, this incident was only the latest in a series of problems TECO and its related companies encountered involving fines for safety violations. OSHA levied a $25,200 fine in 1999 against Tampa Electric for violations at the Gannon Power Station that led to an explosion that killed three people and injured dozens more. And in 2000, the company paid a $7,000 OSHA fine in connection with an electrocution and $3,375 for other violations relating to how coal was treated at the Big Bend Power Station.
“It’s the employer’s responsibility to provide a safe and healthful workplace,” said Michael D’Aquino, OSHA spokesperson, in an interview with WFLA News.
What If I Am Injured On the Job?
All workers have a right to a safe work environment. It’s the law.
If you were injured on the job you will be covered by the workers’ compensation laws in Florida. But an attorney can help with your claim and fight for your rights under the Florida laws.
Have you or a loved one been injured on the job in Florida?
If you or a loved one has been injured on the job in Florida, the attorneys at Thomas and Pearl want to speak to you.
$150 MILLION in verdicts and settlements
Thomas & Pearl attorneys have the skills and training, plus the financial resources necessary to fight for you. Thomas & Pearl can gather statements from witnesses and evidence to help support your case and demonstrate fault.
Ask about our experience as attorneys helping victims of workplace injury in Florida.
Ask about the more than $150M (MILLION) dollars in recent and past jury verdicts and settlements we have gained for our clients.
We’ll evaluate your case situation with you, develop a strategy to win or successfully negotiate the highest amount of compensation for you.
Experienced legal help can make the difference between a successful resolution and losing in court. And you pay nothing unless we get that successful resolution for you.
Contact Thomas & Pearl at anytime.