Two workers of a Kansas power plant who suffered severe burn injuries on the job Sunday morning, June 3, have died.
According to KSNT News of Topeka, Kansas, the deadly accident occurred at the Jeffrey Energy Center located in St. Mary’s, about 40 miles northwest of Topeka.
The two plant workers were identified as operations supervisor Craig Burchett, of Overlook, Kansas, and Jesse Henson of Manhattan, Kansas. The men were critically injured when a steam safety valve on a piece of equipment failed, filling the area they were in with pressurized steam and leaving them with fatal burn injuries, The Wichita Eagle reported.
The Jeffrey Power plant is a coal-fired generating plant primarily owned by Westar Energy. The plant, which is the largest power plant in Kansas and the state’s largest provider of electricity, has been shut down until investigators looking into the accident can confirm it is safe for other workers to return.
The injured workers were flown by helicopter to the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas. Both men died from their burn injuries overnight Sunday.
“We’ve got a team that’s investigating to understand the full circumstances,” Westar spokeswoman Gina Penzig said, according to The Wichita Eagle. “Our focus is on the families and our co-workers out at the plant making sure everybody has the support they need.”
According to The Wichita Eagle, the deadly accident occurred in the Jeffrey plant’s Unit 3, the newest of the power plant’s generating units, which started operating in 1983. Sunday’s accident was the first deadly accident since the power plant opened in 1978, Ms. Penzig told The Wichita Eagle.
The company says it will draw more power from its other generating plants in the state, as well as buy power from other utilities so that customers won’t experience a disruption of service or brownout.