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Hydrogen Build-Up Linked to Power Plant Death

By Michelle Bliss

04-15 – Progress Energy says a buildup of hydrogen caused an explosion that killed a 24-year-old worker at the coal-fired power plant near Wilmington.

Control technician Cory Rogers died in last month's blast at the L.V. Sutton power plant as he performed maintenance on one of the plant's offline units.

Progress Energy Spokesperson Mike Hughes says that hydrogen is used as coolant in the generator and is supposed to be purged from the area when the unit is shut down for maintenance.

"The investigation revealed the hydrogen gas was not fully purged from the generator and that the gas was ignited when Cory went to work in that area with a fan and a work light. One of those two is likely what ignited the explosion."

Progress says it is trying to figure out why all the hydrogen wasn't purged from the unit. The North Carolina Department of Labor is also investigating.

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