Cause of Tri-State incident remains unknown

OSHA to investigate

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A Tri-State Generation & Transmission official said Monday the company is no closer to identifying the cause of Saturday's incident at the power plant, which sent almost 20 workers to the hospital.

Between midnight and about 1 a.m. Saturday, 19 people working at the Tri-State power plant south of Craig went to The Memorial Hospital for flu-like symptoms, including nausea, coughing and burning eyes, Tri-State Communications Manager Jim Van Someren said.

He added he was unaware of any other conditions the workers may have had.

Everyone taken to the hospital was working inside the plant's third power unit on a $39 million environmental renovation. Tri-State plans to install new burners to limit oxides of nitrogen emissions, upgrade the plant's smokestack scrubbers and complete a variety of maintenance tasks.

All of the 19 workers who visited the hospital Saturday worked for subcontractors, and the vast majority worked for Broomfield-based Casey Industrial, Van Someren said.

He also clarified that not all were welders, as was reported Monday, but they were all in the same area when people started to feel ill.

An investigator with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration arrived at the plant Monday afternoon to start an inquiry into Saturday's incident, said Herb Gibson, with the OSHA Denver office.

The investigator will conduct further air monitoring, interview the sick and possibly look at their medical records to determine the cause of the workers' problems, Gibson said.

No more information on what happened to make people feel ill was available by press time Monday.

Van Someren said Tri-State has added extra ventilation to the area where workers became ill to mitigate any air contaminants that might be in the space. The company has not provided the workers with any respiratory equipment.

OSHA had received reports that workers at the plant had reported being sick before Saturday night, Gibson said. He did not know if their circumstances were in any way similar to what happened during the weekend.

Two employees - one hired by a subcontractor and a Tri-State employee - did get sick at the plant and were taken to TMH in ambulances within the last few weeks and before Saturday, Van Someren said. However, their situations had nothing to do with their job at the plant, he added.

"I can unequivocally confirm there have not been similar incidents in the last two weeks - or frankly ever - at Tri-State as what happened this weekend," Van Someren said.

He added Tri-State officials expect to have "full staffing" in the area where problems originated Saturday in the next couple of days.

He did not know if the same workers who were involved in the incident would return to the site.

A representative of Casey Industrial, the company that hired most of the workers who went to the hospital, said the company is referring all questions to Tri-State.

Collin Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or cesmith@craigdailypress.com.

Comments

freeman 5 years, 4 months ago

maybe not enough ventilation in a area were a group of welders are working,,i think i would lean that way

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lonelyone 5 years, 4 months ago

then why have none of Tri-State's people gotten sick? It's just contractors that have been getting sick from what I understand.

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taxslave 5 years, 4 months ago

We just went to level 5 and california has declared a state of emergency....all eateries in Mexico told to close.

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GreyStone 5 years, 4 months ago

All of the 19 workers who visited the hospital Saturday worked for subcontractors. Or people working for lower wages and no documentation.

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Really 5 years, 4 months ago

Taxslave, Where did you hear that about California?

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taxslave 5 years, 4 months ago

Rainbow, I'll come right back with that link...but first...this should make you all feel warm and fuzzy inside...vials swine flu explode on train....

http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/0,1518,621598,00.html

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freeman 5 years, 4 months ago

lonelyone,,i believe all of tristate workers have been properly trained on ventilation ecspecially were welding in close quarters..or im sure you are right,,the workers are just sick of being here

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lonelyone 5 years, 4 months ago

but the company is just getting started with it's outage! How can they be sick of working already?

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GreyStone 5 years, 4 months ago

Freeman, "this new erra of workers" Lower the wages of the working class so they can no longer pay their house payment, buy a car or feed their family then arrest them and send them back to Mecico to die of swine flu thing.

The Moffat County Sheriff's Office arrested seven men working for a subcontractor at the Tri-State Generation & Transmission power plant for suspected crimes related to illegal immigration.

Who might have known !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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lonelyone 5 years, 4 months ago

I guess I'm lost. I for some reason am not getting what your trying to say GreyStone.

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GreyStone 5 years, 4 months ago

If the threat of swine flu thing did not jump out, these men working for the subcontractor might not have been sent back to Mexico.

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lonelyone 5 years, 4 months ago

OOOHHH! I see what your saying now. You could have a point about that, but I kind of think that Tri-States security people are probably just doing their job. I think possibly, they've kept illegals off plant site before, but I do see now where your coming from.

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GreyStone 5 years, 4 months ago

Yes, Tri-States security people were doing their job, however someone on up the line did not verify the I-9 form, Employment Eligibility Verification form, which is the responsibility of the subcontractor. However, a company could still find itself liable if it contracts work to a company knowing that the contractor employs unauthorized workers.

Following the highly publicized case of Wal-Mart when the company settled an $11 million fine in 2005 with ICE, Wal-Mart not only requires a signed agreement with subcontractors, but further requires the certification of an immigration practitioner as to the subcontractors' I-9 practices.

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lonelyone 5 years, 4 months ago

But it's not up to Tri-State to verify the I-9 form people their contractors and sub-contractors hire. You make sense in everything you say but that.

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