Putnam plant boiler explosion created health problems, Pa. man alleges

By Lawrence Smith | Mar 29, 2010

WINFIELD - A Pennsylvania man is accusing a public utility company for health problems he incurred after he was exposed to toxic materials at its Putnam County facility almost two years ago.

Robert C. Wilson II named American Electric Power Service Corp., and American Electric Power in a personal injury lawsuit in Putnam Circuit Court.

In his complaint filed March 1, Wilson alleges AEP failed to take the necessary precautions in preventing a boiler at the John E. Amos Power Plant from blowing out, resulting in the release of toxic fumes and him scrambling for fresh air.

According to his suit, Wilson was working for Shaw Environmental Inc. as a journeyman welder at John Amos on May 29, 2008. At a place in the plant not specified in court records, but at 10:50 a.m. Wilson was "servicing a precipitator or boiler."

While working on the boiler, Hughes alleges a fan inside failed causing "an unsafe level of pressure to build up." Eventually, the pressure caused a wall on the boiler to blow out resulting in "dust, ash, arsenic and other toxic materials to released."

His exposure, Wilson alleges, to the materials "lasted several minutes." He maintains he had to climb four stories to obtain fresh air.

In his suit, Wilson maintains the defendants had a duty to not only properly maintain the boiler, but also warn him if it malfunctioned. As a result of his exposure to the materials released from the it, Wilson alleges he's suffered, among other things, "pain anxiety, loss of wages ... enjoyment of life ... permanently disabling pulmonary function in addition to possible other permanent blood or other disorders."

Wilson seeks unspecified damages, court costs and attorney fees. He is represented by Charleston attorney Henry E. Wood III.

The case is assigned to Judge Philip M. Stowers.

The case is the second one in as many months alleging personal injury at John Amos.

In a suit filed Feb. 8, Charleston resident Joshua Hughes alleges, while working as a welder at John Amos on Feb. 13, 2008, he fell 30 feet when a railing attached to a column he was working on came undone. Along with AEP, and its subsidiary, Allegheny Power, Hughes' suit names his employer, Babcock and Wilson of Pittsburgh, Pa., as a co-defendant.

Like Wilson, Hughes is represented by Wood.

Putnam Circuit Court, case number 10-C-79

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