Electric utility Westar Energy has shut down the Jeffrey Energy Center in St. Mary’s, Kan., for investigation after two employees died from severe burns received during an equipment failure on Sunday, June 3.
According to the company, a steam safety valve failed, filling the area operations supervisors Craig Burchett and Jesse Henson were working in with hot pressurized steam. The accident occurred around 11:30 a.m., after which Burchett and Henson were airlifted to the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan., for treatment.
Burchett died Sunday and Henson died Monday. Both were 45 years old.
“Our Westar employees work very closely together and form strong bonds,” said John Bridson, Westar’s senior vice president of generation. “All of us who worked with Craig and Jesse are grieving and thinking of their families as we cope with this loss.”
The entire coal-fired power plant was shut down while Westar Energy investigates the accident. The plant remained closed on Monday and Tuesday and, according to the company, will resume operation when it is safe to do so.
The plant is the state’s largest source of electric power (rated at 2,178 megawatts) and accounts for nearly 26 percent of Westar’s total generating capacity.
Westar Energy’s Media Relations Director, Gina Penzig said the company will rely on its other generating assets and buy power from other utilities in the Southwest Power Pool. No brownouts or other service interruption is expected, she said.