May 11, 2011 | last updated May 31, 2012 6:12 pm

Kleen Energy safety bill passes committee

A new power plant safety bill drafted in the wake of the Kleen Energy plant explosion in 2010 has passed the Connecticut legislature's Energy & Technology Committee.

The bill passed Tuesday night prohibits anyone operating a power plant from using a flammable gas to clean the facilities piping. The explosion at the Kleen Energy plant was triggered by workers cleaning pipes using natural gas when a spark ignited the gag.

The proposed legislation also requires the Connecticut Siting Council to meet with state agencies to discuss potential safety issues whenever the council receives plans for a new power plant.

The legislation awaits action in the state House of Representatives.

Sen. John Fonfara, D-Hartford, co-chair of the Energy & Technology Committee, tried to attach an amendment to the legislation giving the Department of Public Utility Control responsibilities in coordinating state safety programs.

The amendment also would have required the DPUC, siting council and the Department of Public Safety to meet quarterly to address safety issues and offer suggested remedies to the governor and General Assembly. Fonfara called for continuous monitoring of safety situations at power plants, beyond their construction phase.

"Accidents do not happen only during the construction phase of a power plant's life," Fonfara said in a press release. "The tragedy in Middletown was a wakeup call to our state and the need for greater safety oversight. We should not pass only a half measure in response."

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