The city of Spokane, Washington, is required to pay a $59,400 fine for safety violations that led to serious injuries to two employees in October 2016, despite the fact that city officials say appropriate safety measures were in place and were followed both before and after the accident.
The injuries came as a result of a failure to monitor the temperature of material being removed from the boiler at the city’s waste-to-energy facility, which is run by Spokane’s solid waste department. A report from the Washington Department of Labor & Industries cited 10 violations (via the Spokesman Review). The workers were removing buildup from the sides of the boiler and, while the air temperature inside the boiler was monitored, the temperature of the material being removed was not, the report stated. It also said that workers didn’t receive proper training on how to perform a rescue, that they lacked proper protective covering, and that they hadn’t been trained properly on how to respond to steam burns.
Procedures on how to remove waste material from the waste-to-energy boiler have been changed so that workers no longer need to climb inside the boiler, writes WasteDive. Additionally, the city has hired a consultant to conduct a review of the facility’s operations.
The city’s Solid Waste Disposal Department operates the waste-to-energy facility, which burns municipal solid waste to recover energy in the form of electricity.
The facility can handle up to 800 tons of municipal solid waste a day and can generate 26 megawatts of electricity. The city sells the power to Spokane’s Avista Utilities and earns about $5 million in power sales annually.
The city has two weeks to appeal the Department of Labor & Industries’ ruling.