Contract Worker Dies in Lake Mead Intake 3 Project

OSHA, the Southern Nevada Water Authority, and the contractor are investigating the June 11 death of the victim, identified by KLAS-TV as Thomas Turner, 44.

Just four weeks after the Southern Nevada Water Authority's board approved a change order in the Intake No. 3 construction project at Lake Mead because too much water was seeping into the work site about 400 feet underground, a contract worker at that site was killed June 11 when a tunnel ring segment moved forward unexpectedly and he was struck by pressurized grout that shot out of the opening. A second worker suffered minor injuries, according to the account posted by SWNA.

It says the victim –- identified by KLAS-TV as Thomas Turner, 44 – died around 4:30 p.m. about 600 feet underground.

During the evening of June 11, a tunnel rescue team from the contractor, Vegas Tunnel Constructors, entered the tunnel and examined the site. "The VTC team determined the tunnel was safe for entry," SWNA reported. "After an initial underground investigation, OSHA concurred that VTC could proceed with activities to secure and clean the work area so the joint investigation can move forward. VTC is currently cleaning the space and preparing to seal the approximate four-inch by two-foot gap where the tunnel ring segment slipped forward allowing pressurized grout to force through. The concrete segment did not fall into the tunnel. The amount of material that forced through the opening was about one-half of a cubic yard with some 2-inch to 4-inch size rock mixed with grout and mud. No further material has come into the tunnel. One hundred thirty-three (133) of these concrete rings have been successfully put in place by the tunnel boring machine and crews, with a total of nearly 2,500 expected to complete the tunnel. All of the installed segments are stable.

"VTC is investigating how the one segment slipped forward and how to prevent such slippage from happening in the future. Tunneling activities will not resume until that determination is complete."

OSHA, SWNA, and Vegas Tunnel Constructors are conducting a full investigation. The water agency said no workers were trapped or exposed to toxic gases, and there was no flooding of the tunnel.

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