This morning, at 11:30 am, Middletown’s Kleen Energy Power Plant suffered a major explosion, believed to be when a gas line caught fire during testing. Friends who work at the plant said that there were 50 – 100 construction workers, engineers, and plant managers who were inside. As of 12 pm, Middletown firefighters had only found 9 individuals. Since then, five* have been reported dead, with casualties and injuries expected to be many more. Firefighters from around the state came into the plant, with Hartford and Boston’s search-and-rescue teams both coming to Middletown to help clear the wreckage and free workers still stuck inside.
Workers at the plant were working long shifts, trying to finish the plant on a tight schedule. Matthew Lesser, Middletown’s representative to state government, said, “As I understand it, they were testing a gas line when the explosion took place but we’re not sure. Our first priority is making sure that everyone there is safe.”
I live about 5 miles away from this power plant, and felt my house shake from the explosion. The nearby Connecticut Valley Hospital had windows blown out from the explosion, and while most nearby homes had little damage done, nearby towns like mine are making house calls to reassure our communities that we are still safe. In Durham’s town store, the sidewalks and our skating pond, people shared the news they were receiving from our volunteer firefighters, from friends who were supposed to have gone into work, and from friends living nearby the plant.
Fossil fuels are not safe. They are not safe for our planet, they are not safe for our communities, and they are not safe for the workers inside of their power plants. This is not the first power plant explosion, this will not be the last. It is time for America to commit to a clean and safe energy economy – where our friends and neighbors can work in green jobs that give good wages and safe working environments. My heart and prayers are with the workers at the Kleen Energy Plant and with their families — and with the future of our nation to not face such a tragedy again.