Sunday, September 23, 2018
Public safety

Two dead, four injured after ''major incident'' at TECO power plant

READ THE LATEST UPDATES: Investigation continues into explosion at Tampa Electric Co. plant that killed two, injured four

APOLLO BEACH — Two people were killed and four people were seriously injured Thursday in what is being described as a "major incident'' at the Tampa Electric Company power plant in Apollo Beach.

Hillsborough County Fire Rescue units responded to a 911 call about a possible explosion at the Big Bend Power Station at approximately 4:20 p.m.

Four people were transferred to Tampa General Hospital, spokeswoman Ellen Fiss said. Two were transported by ground and two by air. None of the six casualties were identified as of Thursday evening, but all have life-threatening injuries.

The two deaths were pronounced at the scene.

Victims sustained burn injuries as well as other injuries that "would be categorized as very severe," said Fire Rescue spokesman Corey Dierdorff.

The incident occurred in Unit 2, the second coal-fired generating unit of four at the plant. It appeared to occur near a slag tank, where coal by-product falls after it is burned, said TECO spokeswoman Cherie Jacobs. Hazardous material units were deployed to the scene.

TECO workers were conducting routine maintenance on the slag tank at the time, Jacobs said. The company is working with investigators to determine the cause of the incident.

The unit was shut down Thursday afternoon, though two other units continued to run. There were no power outages connected to the incident.

Jacobs said TECO was making resources available for its employees in the aftermath of the tragedy.

"Tampa Electric is full of long-term employees and we have long been a family," she said. "The Tampa Electric family right now is mourning."

Hot slag is a molten by-product created when coal is burned for electricity. Chunks of it fall into cooling tanks and the remnants, which are black and glass-like, are recycled and used in sand blasting and roofing.

Twenty years ago almost to the day, four TECO workers were seriously injured during routine maintenance of a slag tank at a plant in Port Sutton. Two of the injured workers sustained first- and second- degree burns in the June 1997 incident.

TECO's Apollo Beach power plant, located off Big Bend Road, opened in 1970 off the Hillsborough County coast. Unit 2 went online in 1973, according to TECO's website.

Smoke from its towering stacks can be seen from around Tampa Bay. The plant primarily burns coal. However, it has in recent years added natural gas- and oil-fired capabilities.

The plant also is a popular tourism destination for its manatee viewing center.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has an open safety case pending at TECO's Big Bend plant from May 24. No details were available late Thursday.

In 2010, a TECO lineman died from electric shock after making contact with a power line, according to an Occupational Safety and Health Administration report. The company paid a $6,300 fine.

The same year TECO paid a $5,250 fine for a serious electrical safety violation at a facility on MacDill Air Force Base.

Senior News Researcher John Martin and Times Staff Writer Langston Taylor contributed to this report. Contact Anastasia Dawson at [email protected] and Steve Contorno at [email protected]

Comments
Tarpon Springs woman hit and killed as she pushes stroller along U.S. 19, police say

Tarpon Springs woman hit and killed as she pushes stroller along U.S. 19, police say

TARPON SPRINGS — A 27-year-old Tarpon Springs woman died Saturday after she was struck by a car as she walked along U.S. 19 pushing a stroller with a 2-year-old in it while two 6-year-olds walked beside her, police said.Tymira Latrel Leverson and the...
Published: 09/22/18
Decomposed body found in woods in Wesley Chapel

Decomposed body found in woods in Wesley Chapel

WESLEY CHAPEL — Someone walking in the woods near Beardsley Drive and Broughton Place found a decomposed body about 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Pasco County sheriff’s officials said.Sheriff’s investigators said they have not determined if foul play was invo...
Published: 09/22/18
Pinellas Park man killed in rollover crash near Feather Sound

Pinellas Park man killed in rollover crash near Feather Sound

ST. PETERSBURG — A 47-year-old Pinellas Park man died Friday night after his pickup truck veered into oncoming traffic, rolled over and ejected him, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.Troopers said the crash took place at 7:15 p.m. at Feather So...
Published: 09/22/18
FHP: He stopped to help — then another driver killed him and stole his car

FHP: He stopped to help — then another driver killed him and stole his car

ST. PETERSBURG — An act of kindness ended tragically when the body of a missing motorist was found Friday more than 15 hours after he pulled over on the side of Interstate 275 to assist another driver.Dhimitri Andoni, 22, of Clearwater was driving no...
Published: 09/21/18
Updated: 09/22/18
Fatal Friday night crash closes lanes on Ulmerton Road

Fatal Friday night crash closes lanes on Ulmerton Road

ST. PETERSBURG — A fatal traffic crash occurred at about 7:15 p.m. Friday at the intersection of Ulmerton Road and Carillon Parkway, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.The crash closed all westbound lanes of Ulmerton Road.No additional informati...
Published: 09/21/18
Deputies seek two men wanted in sexual battery at Tampa motel

Deputies seek two men wanted in sexual battery at Tampa motel

TAMPA — Deputies are asking for the public’s help to identify two men they believe committed a sexual battery on Sept. 15 near an east Tampa hotel.The attack took place inside a vehicle at the Quality Inn & Suites at 10007 Princess Palm Ave., accordi...
Published: 09/21/18
Sheriff: Pinellas deputy fired for alerting inmate about cell search

Sheriff: Pinellas deputy fired for alerting inmate about cell search

A Pinellas County detention deputy was terminated on Friday for revealing confidential information about a scheduled search of jail cells for weapons and other contraband, said Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri.Detention deputy Michelle Parsons, 48, adm...
Published: 09/21/18
'Divorce Court' woman accused of sex with boy, 15; he says he may have fathered her newborn

'Divorce Court' woman accused of sex with boy, 15; he says he may have fathered her newborn

HUDSON — A 26-year-old woman has been charged with three counts of lewd and lascivious battery after a 15-year-old boy told deputies he could be father of her newborn child, the Pasco County Sheriff's Office said. The boy, who has not been nam...
Published: 09/21/18
Deputies: Spring Hill man set fire to ex-girlfriend’s home in July

Deputies: Spring Hill man set fire to ex-girlfriend’s home in July

SPRING HILL — A 27-year-old man was arrested Thursday in connection with a July building fire, according to the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office.Christopher Lamar Jamison of Spring Hill faces 10 counts of attempted murder and charges of arson and agg...
Published: 09/21/18
Bob’s Carpet and Flooring heir paid hundreds of thousands dollars for drugs, federal court records show

Bob’s Carpet and Flooring heir paid hundreds of thousands dollars for drugs, federal court records show

Robert Butler III, an heir to a well-known local flooring chain that bears his father’s name, participated in a money laundering scheme and paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for cocaine and marijuana in recent years, according to federal court re...
Published: 09/21/18