Tampa Electric has been fined $30 075 for breaching Federal safety regulations at its Gannon and Big Bend coal-fired plants.
The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration imposed the fine following a six month investigation into an explosion that took place on 8 April at the 1300 MWe Gannon power plant, in which three workers were killed, as reported in the May 1999 issue of Modern Power Systems.
Shortly after the incident, Tampa Electric blamed the explosion on employee error, saying that an access cover to a cooling system for Unit 6 had been opened before the hydrogen had completely drained from the generator during a maintenance overhaul. However, the OHSA said: “The workers involved had not been informed during a morning briefing that the hydrogen that was used to cool the generator during normal operations had not been purged as scheduled. Hydrogen is typically purged by the second or third day of the overhaul process which, on 8 April, was in its 13th day.” OHSA additionally fined TECO $4875 after investigating complaints from the coal-fired 1800 MWe Big Bend power plant in Apollo Beach, Florida, that an excessive buildup of coal dust at the plant presented a fire hazard.