Initial reports Thursday had the total injury count at four. Georgia Power Spokesman Brian Green confirmed Friday, however, that only three employees had sustained minor injuries from the blast. Two were treated onsite and one was transported to the hospital before being released Thursday night.
The explosion took place just before 4 p.m. Thursday inside the Plant Bowen powerhouse on the Unit 2 generator as it was being taken offline for scheduled maintenance.
“There was an equipment malfunction in the Unit 2 generator,” Green said. “It was a scheduled preventative maintenance and we were bringing the unit offline when the explosion occurred.
“We’re doing all we can now to get the investigation started. We do recognize it’s probably going to be a good bit of time before we really have an idea of what caused the explosion, but we’re getting the ball rolling on trying to figure out what really took place.
“We do have some employees onsite and right now, we’re really just taking inventory of the damage, assessing the situation and just trying to get an idea of the scope of what took place.”
The incident reads similarly to that of a tragic accident at Plant Bowen nearly 40 years ago as described by The Daily Tribune News in the Monday, May 15, 1972, issue. The result, however, was much different from this week’s event. The 1972 explosion took the lives of three men and seriously injured three others during the testing of lines in preparation of putting the “No. 2 power generating unit” into service.
“The aftermath of the explosion left the section of the building containing the boiler-generator unit in a similar status as if a bomb had hit it. Heavy steel beams, steel stair railing, and the corrugated steel building walls were ripped and twisted as if they were cardboard,” reported The Daily Tribune News Assistant to the Publisher Paul Miles. “One section of the pipe was thrown through the air approximately 350-feet, tearing out a hole in the front wall and falling on, and demolishing a car which was parked outside the building. The impact also tore sizeable holes in the roof, a distant three stories above the third-floor level which contains the generator.”
The incident of Saturday, May 13, 1972, killed Dillard Taylor of Rome, Alex Ismanof of Birmingham, Ala., and David Tonkery of Atlanta. The three injured were reported as Bill Owens, Charles Hilliard and Horace Downs, all of Rome.
While metal panels may have once again been blown from the walls of Plant Bowen, thankfully all Georgia Power employees and contractors returned to their homes after Thursday’s incident.
Updates will be provided in future issues of The Daily Tribune News as they become available.