Chris Walters

ASSE Mourns Member Lost in Kleen Energy Blast

C. Christopher Patton, CSP, president of the American Society of Safety Engineers, said the society is saddened by the sudden loss of Chris Walters, an ASSE member since 1981, who died Sunday in the explosion at the under-construction Kleen Power Plant in Middletown, a suburb of Hartford, Conn.

Patton said Walters, who worked as a safety professional for more than 20 years, was not only dedicated to protecting people, property, and the environment, but to his wife, Fran, and their three children. Four other workers were killed in the mid-morning blast, and at least a dozen others were injured.

"Chris was a very active member of ASSE, a fellow St. Louis Chapter member, and respected safety professional," Patton said. "He was a great volunteer in the chapter, well liked by everyone, and will be sorely missed."

Walters, a resident of Florissant, Mo., had served as a volunteer in the ASSE St. Louis Chapter for several years, and, to continue his commitment to the profession, he transferred his ASSE membership to the local Nutmeg chapter when he took the job in Connecticut, where he continued to be very active.

"As occupational safety and health professionals, we work every day to make sure that workers, our co-workers, leave work injury and illness free," Patton said. "That's what Chris has been doing for more than 20 years. It goes far beyond compliance, as safety professionals must inspire commitment from their leadership and integrate safety into business' strategic and sustainability plans."

Walters had master degrees in Safety Management and Occupational Safety and Health. In the summer of 2006, he was featured on the cover of Central Missouri State University's alumni magazine for his work in the construction of the then-new Busch Stadium in downtown St. Louis. According to the story, "Hunt Construction credits CMSU graduates Chris Walters, safety manager, and his assistant Joe Enright, for helping establish one of the best safety programs in the industry. The company's lost-time injury rate building Busch Stadium was 82 percent below the national average. Their dedication to safety helped the $344 million-plus project stay on schedule and on budget with barely any loss due to incidents." Walters estimated that it took about 2.5 million hours of labor to build the stadium, which was under construction from October 2005 until April 10, 2006.

"We are all deeply saddened by Chris' death," Patton said. "Because of people like Chris, millions of workers in the U.S. go to work and leave work injury and illness free every day. We salute Chris for all he has done the past 20 years as a dedicated safety and health professional and will honor his memory, especially in St. Louis where he touched so many lives."

ASSE's St. Louis Chapter has set up a fund to assist the Walters family. For those wishing to contribute, checks should be made payable to the V. Chris Walters Family Fund and sent care of Parkside Financial Bank & Trust to 8112 Maryland Ave. Suite 101, Clayton, Mo. 63105. For more information about the fund, contact Mark Steinbrecher at (314) 220-6345.

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