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Bluff collapses at We Energies power complex (UPDATE)

By: admin//October 31, 2011//

Bluff collapses at We Energies power complex (UPDATE)

By: admin//October 31, 2011//

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A bluff collapsed at a We Energies power plant along the Lake Michigan shoreline on Monday in Oak Creek. Several construction trailers filled with equipment and tools were damaged in the bluff failure. No injuries were reported as of Monday afternoon. (Staff photos by Kevin Harnack)

By James Briggs

A bluff at the We Energies Oak Creek Power Plant collapsed Monday, causing construction trailers and equipment to slide toward Lake Michigan.

No one was injured, said Barry McNulty, a spokesman for We Energies.

“At this point in time, everyone has been safely accounted for,” McNulty said Monday afternoon. “We believe no injuries are associated with it.”

McNulty did not know how many workers were near the bluff when it collapsed at 10:45 a.m. Several contractors and employees typically work nearby, he said.

People gather Monday in Cliffside Park, south of the power plant, to view the scene of the incident.

We Energies is installing an air-quality control system at the power plant. The system is more than 90 percent complete, McNulty said.

The Oak Creek Power Plant, which began operating in 1959, is a coal-based plant spread across 400 acres of shoreline.

New York-based URS Corp., which owns Washington Group International, the general contractor on the project, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

The U.S. Coast Guard dispatched boats to the scene, in part, to determine whether there were environmental hazards, McNulty said. Debris could be seen floating along the lakeshore.

“We’re trying to assess what is in the water as the result of the mudslide and bluff failure,” McNulty said.

The cause of the bluff collapse remains under investigation, he said.

Maureen Wolff, 54, gathered Monday with fellow neighbors to watch the power plant from a nearby bluff. Wolff has spent her entire life in the neighborhood, she said.

The mudslide didn’t come as a surprise to Wolff, who said the nearby bluffs had been eroding for decades.

“Talk about a Halloween horror, huh?” she said.


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