Cal/OSHA focused on contractor in plant demo that went awry

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) A state official told Eyewitness News on Monday that it's primarily investigating a blasting company in an injury-marred weekend demolition of the Pacific Gas and Electric Co. power plant.

The Saturday morning planned implosion of the Kern Power Plant off Rosedale Highway and Coffee Road sent shrapnel flying more than 1,000 feet to the east and west, well beyond the cordoned safety zone. A 44-year-old man suffered severe leg injuries. Police initially reported one leg was amputated, but family members of Jerry Wood said Monday that he had all his limbs and remained in critical condition.

Four other people were less severely injured with flying metal, and cars and other property were damaged.

Erika Monterroza, a spokeswoman with the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, said its investigation is focused at this point on Lincoln, Calif.-based Alpha Explosives, a demolition contractor hired by PG&E, via another contractor. Monterroza said PG&E isn't being investigated at this point.

Alpha Explosives could face a monetary penalty, the Cal/OSHA spokeswoman said. More after video {>}{>}

"Our investigation will include issuing an order to preserve at the site so that we can gather evidence where the incident occurred," Monterroza said. "It will also involve interviews with the employer, which is Alpha Explosives. They were the ones hired to conduct the demolition of these two 45-foot boiler towers. And workers that work for Alpha Explosives, as well as some witness to the incident. It will also include a very thorough review of Alpha Explosives safety records, safety documentation, at their place of work, as well as for this specific incident. And, depending on the situation, it could include lab analysis."

Kern Power Plant operated from 1948 until 1985, when it went into stand-by status. It was permanently closed in 1995. PG&E said it committed to clean up the site after several deals to sell the property fell through.