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5 workers killed in explosion at Middleton, Conn., power plant

Workers were purging natural gas lines at the Kleen Energy Systems plant in Middleton, Conn., at the time of the explosion. Fourteen people were injured, but officials do not know how many died.
Workers were purging natural gas lines at the Kleen Energy Systems plant in Middleton, Conn., at the time of the explosion. Fourteen people were injured, but officials do not know how many died. (Douglas Healey/getty Images)

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Monday, February 8, 2010

CONNECTICUT

5 workers killed in blast at power plant

An explosion that sounded like a sonic boom blew out the walls of an unfinished power plant in Connecticut and set off a fire during a test of natural gas lines Sunday, killing at least five workers, injuring a dozen or more, and leaving crews picking through debris for more possible victims.

At least 12 people were injured in the explosion at the Kleen Energy Systems plant in Middletown, about 20 miles south of Hartford. Crews with dogs were searching the rubble as darkness fell over the plant.

It was not clear how many people, if any, remained buried. Deputy Fire Marshal Al Santostefano told the Associated Press that 50 to 60 people were in the area at the time of the explosion, but authorities said multiple contractors were working on the project, making it difficult to know how many people were missing.

"I think a majority of them did survive," Santostefano said. "Most of them did walk away." The explosion happened about 11:17 a.m., he said. Mayor Sebastian Giuliano called it a gas explosion but said the exact cause was not immediately clear. The search was focusing in part on who was at the plant during the blast. Giuliano said 100 to 200 workers would have been there on a typical weekday.

The 620-megawatt plant is being built to produce energy primarily using natural gas. Santostefano said workers for the construction company, O&G Industries, were purging the gas lines when the explosion occurred.

Kleen Energy Systems began construction on the power plant in February 2008. It had signed a capacity deal with Connecticut Light and Power for the electricity produced by the plant. Construction was scheduled to be completed by mid-2010.

-- Associated Press

SPACE SHUTTLE

Clouds prevent Endeavour launch

Clouds prevented Endeavour from blasting off Sunday on the last planned nighttime space shuttle launch, delaying its trip with a final few building blocks for the international space station.

The band of low clouds started moving in from the north late Saturday. NASA counted down to the nine-minute mark, but the sky remained overcast, offering little hope of a break.

NASA managers said they will try again Monday, when slightly better conditions are expected.

"We tried really, really hard to work the weather. It was just too dynamic," launch director Mike Leinbach told the six astronauts aboard Endeavour. "We just were not comfortable with launching a space shuttle tonight."

Launch time is set for 4:14 a.m. Monday

-- Associated Press

Democratic nominee for Illinois lieutenant governor quits: The Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor of Illinois dropped out of the race Sunday night, less than a week after winning the nomination, amid an uproar about his past. In announcing his decision at a Chicago bar filled with people watching the Super Bowl, Scott Lee Cohen said the Democrats were not certain they could win with him on the ticket. Since Cohen won the nomination Tuesday, it has become widely known that he was accused of abusing his ex-wife and holding a knife to the throat of an ex-girlfriend -- a woman who was charged with prostitution. He also has said he used steroids in the past. Gov. Pat Quinn (D), who would have been paired with Cohen on the November ticket, Rep. Danny K. Davis (D) and Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D) had urged Cohen to leave the race. Quinn has said he knew nothing about the allegations until after Tuesday's primary.

New Orleans elects first white mayor in 30 years: Mitch Landrieu was elected mayor of New Orleans on Saturday, the first time in more than 30 years that voters of this majority-black city have chosen a white candidate. Landrieu, a Democrat and Louisiana's lieutenant governor, won more than 50 percent of the vote, defeating 10 competitors and avoiding a run-off election. Democrat Troy Henry, a black businessman, came in second. Landrieu, 49, is the son of New Orleans' last white mayor, Moon Landrieu, and brother of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.). Current mayor C. Ray Nagin, who cannot seek reelection because of term limits, was the public face of the city's botched response to Hurricane Katrina.

Winning Powerball ticket sold in N.C.: A winning Powerball ticket worth more than $140 million was sold Saturday night in Asheville, N.C. Pamela Walker, a spokeswoman for North Carolina Education Lottery, said the ticket was sold at a Wilco Hess convenience store. The winning numbers were 14, 22, 52, 54 and 59, with the Powerball 4. The ticket is worth a $141.4 million annuity or $69.6 million in cash, minus tax withholdings.

-- From news services


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