Worker missing after Progress Energy building collapse

A worker is missing after a building at Progress Energy Florida’s retired 452 MW Paul Bartow Power Plant collapsed the evening of June 9.

Crews were using K-9 units to search the debris area, which is as wide as a football field, according to WTSP-TV. At the time, the worker was doing welding work on the first floor of the seven-story building.

Crews reportedly said there were voids in the rubble as big as 30 or 40-feet wide and they were hoping the man was in one of those spaces.

According to a release from Progress, the workers were dismantling the plant’s retired Unit 3 boiler by cutting eight of the 18, 14-inch H-beams that supported the boiler section. The boiler section was a 180-foot structure with a 10,000 sq. ft. base, which accounted for approximately 25 percent of the overall plant structure. This was the first boiler dismantling to be performed as part of the project.

The crew was preparing for a controlled collapse but the boiler fell before it was supposed to. The reason behind that is unknown.

The contract worker, an employee of Frontier Industrial Corp., was the only person in the building at the time of the collapse, Progress Energy said in a release. There were 21 Progress Energy employees and contractors on the site when the accident happened.

Progress Energy has been working with contractors to dismantle the Bartow steam plant following the 2009 construction of four on-site, gas- and oil-fired combustion turbines and one steam turbine. Once the 1,200 MW combined-cycle plant came online, the Bartow steam plant was no longer economically feasible.

The plant began service in 1958.

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