Personal Injury

Fifth Worker Dies After Power Plant Explosion

TECO power plant explosion image courtesy ABC Action News 375x210 Fifth Worker Dies After Power Plant ExplosionLast Thursday, a fifth worker died of injuries sustained during the June 29th accident at the Big Bend Power Station in Apollo Beach, Florida.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, Armando Perez, 56, died of his injuries after being coated in molten slag, the abrasive waste after the smelting of ore. Slag can reach temperatures of 1,000 degrees or more.

Perez was a BRACE Industrial Group worker at the Tampa Electric (TECO) power plant, one of the largest power plants in Florida, who was contracted to assist with maintenance and cleaning of a slag tank. Five other workers were injured in the incident, two of whom died on site. Two more struggled to survive in a hospital, then later died. Only Gary Marine Jr., 32, remains alive.

Navarette was attempting to unplug the tank, which was full of molten slag, to conduct the necessary maintenance. A burst of searing slag exploded onto the men.

“Our heartfelt prayers and sympathy are extended to his family and friends as we keep our primary focus on supporting our employees and their families during this difficult time,” BRACE said in a statement on Thursday.

The two workers killed on site were 60-year-old Michael McCort, a senior plant operator, and 40-year-old Christopher Irvin, a contract worker.

Antonio “Marro” Navarrete, 21, was also a BRACE worker who fought for his life a week after the accident before passing away. Marine Jr.’s stepfather, 55-year-old Frank Lee Jones, lived three more days than Navarrete before passing away.

TECO was fined more than $25,000 in 1999 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for serious safety violations at its Gannon Power station located in Hillsborough County. The violations resulted in the death of three workers and injured dozens more. OSHA fined the company another $7,000 a year later for safety violations that led to electrocution of a worker.