Wyoming power plant suffers second fire

BASIN Electric Power Cooperative officials have confirmed three of its workers were hurt in the second fire in a week at its Laramie River Station coal-fired facility in Wyoming.

Donna Schmidt

The fire occurred just days after an initial blaze in the facility’s surge bin on May 14. No injuries were reported in that incident.

The blaze started about 6am local time May 19 and is believed to have started in the plant’s coal unloading area.

“A high-level alarm was indicated in one of the dust collection hoppers,” the company said late Monday.

“In an effort to resolve the issue, three employees suffered injuries and were transported to the Platte County Memorial Hospital for further evaluation.”

Two employees have since been released and will receive follow-up care at the North Colorado Medical Center Western States Burn Center, while a third was flown to the burn center and remains under care.

None of the workers’ names were released.

An investigation into the fire has begun, and BEPC confirmed an external investigation expert was contacted to head the effort.

“While we are relieved that no lives have been lost, we are heartsick for our impacted employees and their families,” officials said.

“The safety of our employees is of utmost importance to us.”

In early May, BEPC entered into a program with Caterpillar Safety Services to transition the plant’s safety program to a cooperative-wide safety culture.

The company called the recent pair of fires “extremely unfortunate and rare”

“We are committed to preventing accidents across the cooperative,” chief executive officer and general manager Andrew Serri said.

Officials reportedly do not feel the two fires were related.

According to an Associated Press report, the plant was functioning at one-third capacity Monday with one unit in operation.

Two remaining units are expected to be offline until early next month.

Basin Electric Power Cooperative is the operating agent of the 1700 megawatt Laramie River Station.

Five other utilities are partners, including Heartland Consumers Power District, Lincoln Electric System, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Western Minnesota Municipal Power Agency and Wyoming Municipal Power Agency.

The facility has three coal-based units: Unit 1, 570 net MW, that began operating in 1980; Unit 2570 net MW, that began operating in 1981; and Unit 3, 570 net MW, that began operating in 1982.

It delivers electricity to two separate electrical grids. Unit 1 is connected to the Eastern Interconnection, while Unit 2 and Unit 3 are connected to the Western Interconnection.

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