TX Boiler Explosion Leaves Georgia Man Dead

Coal-fired plant emission. | Image by A. L. Spangler/Shutterstock

An explosion on Wednesday morning at a Texas power plant resulted in tragedy.

Robertson County Emergency Management (RCEM) announced that a boiler at a power plant north of Franklin exploded at approximately 8 a.m. on May 31. The explosion, which resulted in one fatality, took place when a new auxiliary boiler was being checked to see that it had been installed and set up correctly.

RCEM reported in a Facebook post that emergency services responded to reports of an explosion at the Oak Grove Power Plant.

Despite reports of multiple injuries, first responders arrived and found there was only one person, a contractor, who had been seriously injured. A 50-year-old man from Georgia, Shannon Payne, was identified as the injured man, reported The Eagle. He subsequently died from his injuries.

Meranda Cohn, a spokesperson for Luminant, owner of the plant, said in a statement that the cause of the explosion is unknown and that an investigation is currently underway.

“All other employees and contractors have been accounted for and there are no other known injuries at this time,” said Cohn in the statement, according to CBS News.

Officials also confirmed that there was no danger to the town of Franklin and that, despite the explosion, the plant was able to remain operational and continue to produce power.

“There were no other injuries and the incident is under control. There is no threat to the public,” said RCEM in the Facebook post. “Please keep all Luminant employees and the family of the victim in your prayers.”

The Oak Grove Power Plant has been open since 2010 and generates 1,600 megawatts of electricity from two boilers by combusting lignite, a soft, brown rock that is flammable and often called “brown coal,” according to The Eagle.

Explosions at coal-fired power plants are common. In the 25 years between 1980 and 2005, there was a yearly average of 11 fires/explosions, 29 injuries, and 5 deaths at coal-fired power plants, according to construction engineering company F.E. Moran Inc.

Coal dust in small amounts — as small as a footprint size — can be a serious fire hazard. Any nearby friction that occurs can then cause the dust to ignite, resulting in an explosion.

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