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Fatal accident at Keene wastewater plant

A fatal accident occurred Wednesday at the Keene wastewater treatment plant in Swanzey.
Hunter Oberst
Keene Sentinel / Granite State News Collaborative
A fatal accident occurred Wednesday at the Keene wastewater treatment plant in Swanzey.

This article is shared by partners in The Granite State News Collaborative. It was first published in The Keene Sentinel. For more information

A worker for a Keene-based electric business died Wednesday morning in what officials say was an accident at the city's wastewater treatment plant.

The incident occurred around 8 a.m., Keene Mayor George Hansel said at a news conference at City Hall Wednesday afternoon. The Hamblet Electric employee, whose identity has not yet been released, was helping install a new backup generator at the plant on Airport Road in Swanzey, Hansel said.

"We're committed to finding out exactly what happened here, and ensuring that it never happens again," Hansel said. "This is an ongoing investigation so some details may not be available at this time."

Assistant Director of Public Works Duncan Watson said the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) was at the plant Wednesday investigating what happened. Officials from OSHA were not immediately available Wednesday to answer questions about the investigation.

Hamblet Electric has had several contracts with the city in the past, and the worker who died was well-known by employees at the plant, Watson told The Sentinel after the news conference. On this project, Hamblet was a subcontractor of Milford, Mass.-based Southworth Milton Inc., City Manager Elizabeth Dragon said.

Hamblet Electric was not immediately available for comment Wednesday afternoon.

The person who died was working in an electrical room with breakers and electrical boxes when the incident occurred, according to Watson. Authorities are still investigating the cause of the worker's death.

Watson said workers and contractors at the plant receive extensive safety training, and that every safeguard he knows of was in place and working properly at the time of the incident.

Dragon said the plant, which runs 24/7, is still in operation, but the city temporarily shut down three projects to allow workers who were there to go home.

She said the circumstances surrounding the accident are under investigation, and that more details will become available as they are available.


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