Multiple Probes of Kleen Energy Blast Begin

Purging natural gas lines incorrectly is a major concern for the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, which has a team on site. Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell has formed two panels of experts to find the cause and determine whether laws, regulations, or building and fire codes should be strengthened.

While state and federal investigators examine the wreckage left by Sunday morning’s explosion at the Kleen Energy plant in Middletown, Conn., in which five workers died, Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell on Monday announced she is assembling two panel of experts to look at the case. The first will be chaired by Senior U.S. District Judge Alan H. Nevas and will identify the cause(s) and origin of the explosion. The second will determine whether changes are needed in state laws, regulations, or building and fire codes to protect workers and residents living in the areas surrounding construction projects.

"The explosion in Middletown not only shattered the peace of a quiet Sunday morning, it led to the tragic loss of five valuable lives and devastated their families," Rell said. "There are so many unanswered questions. What led to this disaster? What were the contributing factors? Could anything have been done to prevent it? These are the questions that we must answer now, not only for the sake of the victims and their families but to avoid tragedies like this in the future.

"Our response to the Middletown explosion must follow two distinct but critical paths. We must first identify what went wrong and then determine every measure we can take to prevent future catastrophes. The reviews must be thorough, impartial, and swift. And if there are concrete steps we can take in the meantime, we must be equally swift in putting those new measures into place."

The Nevas panel will include representatives from the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Labor, the Connecticut State Police (including the Office of the State Fire Marshal and the Office of the State Building Inspector), the Department of Consumer Protection, and the Department of Public Utility Control. The second panel will be chaired by James Thomas, recently retired commissioner of the state Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and former Glastonbury police chief; members will come from the Department of Public Utility Control, the Office of the State Fire Marshal, the Office of the State Building Inspector, and the Department of Public Works. Engineering and architectural firms, as well as municipal engineering and fire officials, will be asked to participate in the review.

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