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Explosion at Edison Plant Takes 2nd Life

From Times Wire Services

A man from Needles, Calif., on Monday became the second man to die from injuries suffered when a steam line at Southern California Edison’s Mohave generating station in Laughlin ruptured over the weekend.

Ernest Hernandez, 32, a plant equipment operator, had been taken to the burn unit at Southern Nevada Memorial Hospital after Sunday’s explosion.

Daniel Norman, 30, of Riviera, Ariz., also a plant equipment operator, was killed instantly in the midafternoon accident.

Water and steam at temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees and under 600 pounds of pressure per square inch shot out of the ruptured pipeline leading to the power plant’s turbines.

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Southern California Edison officials said 20 people were in a nearby control room of the 1,580-megawatt plant when the pipe burst.

Of 11 patients remaining at the Las Vegas hospital, physicians said four were listed in very critical condition, three in critical condition and four in serious condition.

The Mohave generating plant’s two coal-fired turbines were shut down after the accident, but there were no interruptions of electricity.

Most of the power plant’s output goes to Los Angeles. Smaller amounts are used in Arizona and Nevada.

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Cause Investigated

Southern California Edison Chairman Howard P. Allen said Monday that the cause of the accident is under investigation.

Speaking during an inspection of the damage, Allen said cleanup operations are expected to continue for several days before repair work begins. The station is owned by Southern California Edison, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the Salt River Project and the Nevada Power Co. Allen said Edison, which operates the plant, will not suffer a shortage of generating capacity because of the accident.

About 450 people are employed at the plant, but only 60 were present when the pipe ruptured.

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“The floor shook, there was debris and people flying by, people screaming,” one of the injured, David Nine, 32, of Laughlin, said Monday in a telephone interview from the Bullhead City (Ariz.) Community Hospital. “I thought I was dead, and I’m sure everybody else did too.

“I saw somebody fly by, I don’t know who it was, and I just yelled, ‘Hit the deck!’ As I was lying on the floor, with the room full of steam, the only thought in my mind was to find shelter, air. At that point, you’re just trying to think of survival. You don’t care what happens as long as you survive.”

Nine and another injured man were released from the hospital Monday.


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