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Citing TECO tragedy, Kathy Castor wants OSHA to upgrade power plant worker safety

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Citing a recent newspaper investigation which revealed that Tampa Electric Company ignored special guidelines to prevent workers from being injured at its Big Bend Power Station, Tampa’s U.S. Representative Kathy Castor is calling on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to take steps to increase worker safety at power plants.

Five men working at TECO’s Big Bend Power Station in Apollo Beach died June 29 after suffering massive burns when a molten substance called “slag” gushed out of a tank when they working to remove a blockage.

A Tampa Bay Times investigation found that TECO abandoned rules that it had put in place after a similar situation in 1997 and resumed the risky procedure that caused the accident.

Citing that story, Castor writes that she “strongly encourages” OSHA to “act swiftly to develop clarifying rules that would prevent future accidents.”

“The Department of Labor may want to consider commencing the rule-making process to protect workers from these slag tank maintenance related injuries and the many other instances where workers have to choose between their safety and the threat of discipline or dismissal.”

The Times also reported last month that over the past two decades, more workers have died at Tampa Electric’s power plants than at those run by any other Florida utility.

“Tampa Electric is actively cooperating with OSHA and supporting its investigation,” TECO spokesperson Cherie Jacobs said on Thursday.

 

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Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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