Hydrogen buildup caused explosion at Progress plant

Progress Energy Inc. said a buildup of hydrogen caused an explosion in March that killed a worker at the 600 MW L.V Sutton coal-fired power plant.

Cory Rogers died in the blast at the plant on March 15 as he performed maintenance on Unit 1, which was offline at the time. Progress officials said there was hydrogen in the unit when Rogers entered. The gas was ignited either by a fan or a work light, according to the Associated Press.

Hydrogen is used as a coolant in the generator and is supposed to be purged when a unit is shut down for maintenance.

Progress said it is trying to figure out why all the hydrogen wasn’t purged from the unit, the article said. The North Carolina Department of Labor is also investigating.

Progress announced plans in 2009 to retire the three units at the Sutton plant and build a 620 MW combined-cycle power plant at the site. The new plant is scheduled to begin operating in 2014.

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