Electrical flash harms workers at Missouri power plant

Wednesday, April 3, 2013 | 10:14 a.m. CDT; updated 3:32 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, April 3, 2013

FULTON — Officials at Ameren Missouri were trying to figure out Wednesday what caused an electrical flash that injured three workers near a central Missouri nuclear plant.

The electrical flash produced an intense burst of heat that harmed employees working in the switch yard that distributes power from the Callaway Energy Center, said Rita Holmes-Bobo, communications director for the St. Louis-based utility. The accident happened at 5:06 p.m. Tuesday.

The incident was "kind of like when a spark happens — you see that light flash. You don't have to be touching anything, but if you're in the proximity, you feel that heat. It was very hot," Holmes-Bobo said.

She said three people were taken to local hospitals, but Ameren Missouri declined to identify them or describe their condition Wednesday, citing respect for the privacy of the workers and their families.

Callaway County Emergency Management Director Michelle Kidwell said late Tuesday night that a 911 call made at 5:16 p.m. reported burn victims, including two with burns to the face. She said a medical helicopter crew was among the emergency responders dispatched to the nuclear facility located about 25 miles northeast of the capital of Jefferson City.

The accident happened outside the protected area of the nuclear plant and did not affect power generation, Ameren Missouri said.

"Everything is safe," Holmes-Bobo said Wednesday. "What we're concerned about now is getting to the root cause, and we're concerned about the safety of the workers" who were injured.

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