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Power plant demolition results in injuries to bystanders

After a power plant demolition in Bakersfield on Saturday in which one individual was seriously harmed and at least several others hurt, Cal-OSHA and the California Public Utilities Commission are set to conduct investigations into what caused the catastrophe. The former, of course, is responsible for enforcing workplace safety regulations, while the latter has oversight of Pacific Gas and Electric Co., the plant owner.

The job in question was the demolition of a 1940s-era power plant that has not been used by PG&E since 1985. At the time of the explosion, an audience of several hundred individuals had gathered to witness the job. At least five individuals were struck by the shrapnel.

It was reportedly shrapnel that resulted in the injuries. According to experts in the demolition industry, it is possible that too many or the wrong kind of explosives were used in the job, or that they were not positioned correctly. It is also feasible that efforts to contain the shrapnel were simply unsuccessful.

Cal-OSHA investigation is set to focus, at least initially, on Alpha Explosives, a contractor hired by Cleveland Wrecking Co., the main contractor on the demolition job.

Sources didn’t mention anything about any workers suffering injuries, though Cleveland Wrecking has previously been cited for safety issues due to unsafe working conditions. When accidents like these occur, employees have rights to injury benefits. Filing a claim, though, isn’t always smooth sailing, and it can be helpful to work with a professional versed in the law to ensure one gets the compensation one deserves.

Source: The Bakersfield Californian, “State agencies open investigations of implosion accident,” John Cox & Steve Levin,

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