Kleen Energy Middletown CT Explosion: Kleen Mass Casualties? Kleen Major Explosion

FOXNews has just announced that there are “mass casualties” at the Kleen Energy Plant in Middletown, Connecticut. It is believed about 100 employees may have been at the plant at the time. I’ll be updating all day. See updates below. See two videos below.

Kleen Energy Explosion
Raymond E. Dobratz, 58, died in the blast today. His name was released y his son, David Dobratz. Mr. Dobratz was a pipefitter, and a member of Connecticut Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 777. Raymond Dobratz lived in Old Saybrook.

MSNBC is reporting an “unknown” number of people dead and injured. CNN cites police officials saying two are dead.

The “massive explosion” at 1340 River Road, was apparently due to a gas line rupturing at about 11:00 – 11:30 AM EST today. The explosion could be felt all the way to Long Island Sound. Multiple emergency vehicles are on the scene.

An hour after the explosion and what is believed to be the Kleen Energy
Systems plant on River Road, emergency rescue personnel were continuing
to arrive by vehicle and helicopter. Helicopters were airlifting
victims to area hospitals.

Witnesses across the river from the plant say the main plant building seems to be “substantially leveled.”

Kleen Energy Plant

 Officer Kevin White of Middletown Police said there were “mass casualties.”

Update 1 PM EST:

The plant manager, Gordon Holk, was not at the plant when the explosion occurred. He said the plant is a 620-megawatt gas-fired power plant.

Middletown is south of the city of Hartford.

FOXNews: “Dozens of ambulances and fire trucks on the scene. The plant was under construction.

This minute on FOXNews 1:04 PM reports 2 dead and 250 injured. Another FOX report at 1:23 PM EST times about 100 injured. “Bodies were everywhere.”

From Ed McKeon at the Middletown Eye:

Former Common Council member Earle Roberts called and left a message
that about 11:15 an explosion nearly rocked his house off of it’s
foundation on nearby Bow Lane.  Roberts said that the force of the
explosion nearly tore the roof from his house, and sent a cloud of
brown debris into the air above the plant which is under construction,
and was scheduled to come on line later this year.

I felt the explosion myself at my house on Pearl Street.  It sounded as
if something had fallen off of my roof, and onto my porch. 

From CBS: “State police were sending detectives.”

Kleen Energy is “majority-owned” by Energy Investors Funds.

The company is constructing the facility to
feed electricity to Connecticut Light & Power under a 15-year
power purchase agreement, according to a report by Fitch Ratings
on Nov. 20.

 At least 50 construction workers were onsite.

Update 2: 40 PM EST:
Governor Rell has activated Emergency Operations Center in Hartford, staffed by Homeland Security, the Department of Public Heath, the National Guard and the Connecticut Department of Emergency Management, as well as Urban Search and Rescue teams.

Update 3:40 PM EST:

This from Gregg Jarrett on FOXNews: “Fewer than 50 injured…some may have survived.”

Update 4:35 PM EST:

A report from FOXNews said the number of injured has has been revised to 14. There appears to be no roster of those working today. Authorities are trying to put that information together so they know who they are looking for.

Update 5:40 PM EST:

From the press conference in progress not.Twelve injured, 5 known to have lost their lives. Not all victim’s families have been notified. The air in the area is not a danger to those close by. There is no danger of other explosions. The plant was in the middle of a change-of-shifts. Search and Rescue are still working the area. The Red Cross is on the scene.

The explosion came after an attempted “blow down” of natural gas pipelines, which requires a “purging” of the lines.

Update about 8 PM EST:
From NY Daily News: A worker said he was knocked off a scaffolding about 50′ up. He saw a group of men below him “get flattened.” He said the injuries were terrible and he saw one man beheaded.

In the first video below, you’ll hear a witness living near Kleen Energy
saying the explosion blew out her home’s windows. Neighbors say they
“doing the firing of the engines,” and something went wrong. In the second video you’ll see an aerial view of the damage to the plant.

Update 2-8-10 10:50 AM EST:

Officials report that 95% of the nearly 100 workers believed to be on site at Kleen during the explosion, have been accounted for. The number of 5 dead has not changed at this time. On section of the plant has still not been searched, as the area is “unstable.” Yesterday’s search continued until 2:30 AM EST today.

In some places the debris is said to be 10′ high.

Update 2-9-10 12:20 EST:

FOXNews has just said that authorities report that everyone at work at the time of the explosion has been accounted for. This assumes that the number of dead stays at 5.

Kleen Energy Middletown, CT Plant Explosion (video)

Aerial View of Kleen Energy after the blast (video)