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Firms fined $882,000 for violations at power plant project



Three companies working on a multi-employer construction site in Anchorage, Alaska, were cited and fined a total of $882,000 for safety violations on a power plant expansion project.

The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development issued 24 willful citations related to a sudden high-pressure event in September that it said resulted from a pressure relief valve being removed from a steam piping system two days earlier. The system was returned to service without safeguards, and the resulting high pressure caused violent shaking of the system, the agency said in a statement Thursday.

Anchorage-based Municipal Light and Power, which operates the power plant, asked operators working for Houston-based UEI L.L.C., doing business as Universal Energy L.L.C., to shut the system down to prevent a catastrophic failure, but when a shut-down was delayed, the company evacuated its employees, the statement said.

Universal Energy, a project management and services company, received 13 willful citations and fines of $182,000. Houston-based infrastructure services company Price Gregory International Inc. received five willful citations and fines of $280,000. And Greenwood Village, Colorado-based Quanta Power Generation Inc., an engineering, procurement and construction energy solutions provider, received six willful citations and fines of $420,000. Municipal Light and Power was not cited because it took prompt action to evacuate the site when unsafe conditions were identified, the Alaska labor department said.

“Jeopardizing worker safety with hazardous work environments will be met with strong enforcement action,” said Heidi Drygas, Alaska’s labor commissioner. “Lives could have been lost in this incident, and these employers must be held to the safety standards our laws demand.”

The three companies cited were not immediately available for comment.