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“Hell Fire from Above” – Power plant accident burned 5 people to death but company knew it beforehand

Written by Wamiq Ali

The blast happened at such a force that it tossed the worker to the ground. The tank which they were trying to fix has blasted and it was pouring hot molten slag on the ground melting away a forklift.That happened in 1997.

That happened in 1997 and Tampa Electric wrote special guidelines to avoid it from happening again.

However, two decades later something similar happened and it took away lives of 5 people. They got burned to death while performing the job. If Tampa Electric had followed the guidelines, the men who were working that day would still have been alive.

The company’s own safety manuals tend to prohibit the procedure. Both 1997 and this June 2017 decision was dependant upon on thing!

Whether or not to turn off the bioler connected to the tank before starting the work.

Tampa Electric says that money wasn’t an issue but economics experts say otherwise, each time a boiler is turned off the company has to suffer a loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars. The second time, Tampa Electric decided to leave it on.


Routine work was being carried out that day, workers were called for a procedure of cleaning out the tank. Workers were cleaning the tank which was connected to the boiler. The boiler was creating hot slag which later was to be poured in the tank below it. The tank then converts this hot lava slag into cool pebbles.

Now, workers were cleaning the tank and the hot slag was being poured inside the boiler which was merely stopped because of a blockage. Then something bad happened and boiler started to pour down lava, the stuck slag. 5 died in the incident.

Working at the bottom of a slag tank with the boiler online is dangerous.


Coal is burned to steam in the boiler and this steam is used to turn over the power plant to create electricity. Holidays were coming and the company couldn’t afford to turn off the boiler. One of the boilers was already out of order and this one counted to be critical for the production. The boiler hole connecting it to the tank got clogged.

At the same time, the tank also got blocked from the bottom, at the path where the slag was transferred to the grinder which converts the cooled slag into small pebbles.

Now, there are two tanks attached to the boiler, another tank was also out of order. They couldn’t afford to lose this tank, so they thought to clean it up while running the boiler.

The only thing between the tank cleaners and the molten slag of bioler was the stuck slag between the opening from boiler to the tank.

That stuck slag broke out and caused the molten slag at 1000 degrees centigrade to rush from the boiler into the tank and then to the workers.


The workers involved

Turning off the boiler is a costly procedure.

More details about this incident with graphics explanation can be read at this independent investigation website.

About the author

Wamiq Ali

Programmer, Blogger and an Entrepreneur trying to make this web a better place by making others learn for free.

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