Xcel Releases Self-Incriminating Report on Fatal Hydroelectric Plant Fire
On Oct 2, 2007, a fire occurred at Xcel’s Cabin Creek Hydroelectric Plant, near Georgetown, Colorado killing five workers. Gary Foster, Don DeJaynes, Dupree Holt, Anthony Aguirre and James St. Peters, along with four others were working in a drained water tunnel (a penstock) connected to the plant, cleaning a sprayer.
To do so, they used a flammable solvent which, according to investigators ignited, causing the blaze. Vapor from the solvent ignited, causing the fire. Foster, DeJaynes, Holt, Aguirre, and St. Peters were working deeper down the pipe than the others and lost their lives in the conflagration, according to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration).
Fast forward to 2010. Criminal charges against Xcel over the five deaths are still pending; however, a recently leaked report from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board accuses Xcel Energy of neglecting worker safety. Now for the really interesting part — it was Xcel that leaked it. Kyle Clark of 9News shares some details with us:
The energy company provided draft versions of the Chemical Safety Board [CSB] report, first to the Denver Post and then to 9Wants to Know investigator Kyle Clark.
The report, which is due to be released at a CSB press conference on August 25, faults Xcel and a contractor for a string of workplace safety violations at the Cabin Creek hydroelectric plant leading up to the October 2007 fire that killed five contract workers.
The decision by Xcel to provide copies of the report is interesting in light of the fact Xcel unsuccessfully tried to get a federal judge to delay the release of the government agency’s report until after a pending criminal case against the company goes to trial.
But it seems that the released document may be an older version of the report, according to the Associated Press via CBS 4 Denver:
Chemical safety board spokesman Daniel Horowitz said Xcel had been instructed to keep the draft confidential. It doesn’t include key sections, such as an analysis of regulations and proposed safety recommendations, he said.
The article also states that the draft was released out of fear on Xcel’s part that the CSB had plans to release the final version closer to the Xcel / RPI criminal trial, thus influencing the jurors.