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Friday, 24 August, 2001, 09:13 GMT 10:13 UK
Power station blast report out
Enron power station
Work has resumed at the plant following the blast
A power station explosion which killed three men and left a fourth badly injured happened during a maintenance operation, a report has revealed.

The Health and Safety Executive has completed the first stage of its investigation into the blast on 8 August at the Teesside Power Station, which is owned by Enron Power Operations.

Initial findings indicate the incident occurred while voltages were adjusted in the plant's electrical system.

The two workers who died at the scene were operator technicians Andrew Sherwood, 36, of Hartlepool, and Darren Higgins, 28, of Normanby, near Middlesbrough.

The third, who died in hospital, was Paul Surtees, 40, of Hawthorn, County Durham, an engineering and maintenance manager.

Graeme White
Graeme White: Suffered severe burns
Operator technician Graeme White, 37, of Billingham, Teesside, is still recovering in Middlesbrough General Hospital from severe burns.

A statement released by the HSE said: "During a planned maintenance programme involving shut-down of part of the power station, electrical power had to be redistributed to support the services and maintain essential supplies.

"This included adjusting the voltages in the electrical system to allow a circuit breaker to be closed.

"At the time of the incident employees were engaged in an operation intended to alter the voltage across a large transformer and this resulted in an immediate explosion and fire.

"Throughout the investigation, HSE inspectors have had the full co-operation of Enron managers and employees.

Minimise risks

"The generation of electricity resumed on August 19 and HSE is now preparing a report for the coroner to assist with the preparation of the inquests."

A final decision on whether to bring any criminal proceedings will not be made until after the inquests.

The statement continued: "The next stage of HSE's investigation will include consideration of whether there are lessons which can be learned by the electricity industry to minimise the risk of this type of incident happening again elsewhere."

Inquests into the three deaths have already been opened and adjourned to a date yet to be fixed.

The investigation by the HSE is expected to continue off site for several more days.

Previous accidents

Enron's chief executive flew in from America to investigate the incident at Lazenby near Middlesbrough.

The explosion was the third at the plant since it was built eight years ago.

Two previous accidents left two employees seriously injured, one partially blind and deaf.

The power station generates electricity for the National Grid using North Sea gas.

See also:

09 Aug 01 | UK
Explosion claims third life
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