Following a six-month investigation, the Alaska Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development has issued a total of 24 citations, with associated fines of $882,000, to three companies on a power-plant expansion project in Anchorage. The inquiry found that a pressure-relief valve had been removed from a steam piping system, which was placed into service without any other safeguards present. Two days later, an event occurred that  caused sudden high pressures and violent shaking of the system, threatening life safety and damage to equipment, the agency concluded.

The incident occurred during start-up and commissioning of Anchorage Municipal Light and Power’s 120-MW George M. Sullivan plant 2A after 28 months of construction to replace six aging simple-cycle, natural-gas turbines with a combined-cycle configuration. The utility asked Universal Energy LLC, the start-up operator, to shut down the system to prevent a catastrophic failure, but the operator delayed shut-down, causing ML&P to evacuate its employees until the area could be deemed safe, the investigation found.

At the close of the investigation in late March, the Dept. of Labor issued 13 willful citations with associated fines of $182,000 to Universal Energy. Price Gregory International Inc., the construction manager, received five willful citations with fines of $280,000 and Quanta Power Generation Inc., the engineering, procurement and construction contractor, received six willful citations with fines of $420,000. Municipal Light and Power was not cited due to its prompt evacuation of the site when unsafe conditions were identified.

On April 5, Universal Energy announced that it has reached a settlement with AKOSH, the state’s safety agency, “with a significant reduction in citations.” The company emphasized, “there were no injuries nor equipment damage” during the incident. Price Gregory and Quanta Power have 15 working days to request an informal conference or a notice of contest, says Greg Cashen, deputy commissioner of the Dept. of Labor.

The text of the article was updated April 7, 2017 to reflect new reporting.