Rescue turns to recovery in search for 2 missing workers in southwest Ohio power plant collapse

The search continued Wednesday for two workers who remain unaccounted-for following a collapse at an Adams County power plant in southwest Ohio.

Rescue crews informed FOX19 NOW late Wednesday night the mission had turned into a recovery, meaning they do not expect to find the two trapped workers alive.

The collapse occurred around 8:30 a.m. Wednesday during work before the controlled demolition of one of the buildings at the closed Killen Generating Station on U.S. 52, said Sheriff Kimmy Rogers.

Three workers were rescued, two Wednesday morning and one in the afternoon. The first two are hospitalized and in stable condition, he said.

The third rescued worker was flown to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. The sheriff said the worker was alert and gave a thumbs up when he was loaded onto the helicopter.

Referring to the two workers who still have not been found, the sheriff said Wednesday afternoon it’s hard to imagine what those families are going through.

“There’s two families out that there that’s got two loved ones in that building somewhere, and you have to feel for those people,” Sheriff Rogers said. “I can not imagine what’s going through their minds knowing that they have a family member and a loved one in there, and they don’t know if they are alive or dead. It’s just a tragedy.”

Multiple rescue crews have been on the scene all day searching for trapped and missing workers.

Hamilton County Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Task Force is part of that response, dispatchers confirm.

Adams County requested their assistance, and Hamilton County dispatchers said they paged task force members to go shortly after 9 a.m.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) compliance is heading to the scene as well, according to a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Labor.

“It could be some time before I will have any further information,” said the spokesman, Scott Allen.

If OSHA launches an investigation, they will determine if work at the time of the collapse complied with all federal rules.

They typically interview all potential witnesses, employees and employers as they work to determine if all OSHA standards and regulations were followed.

OSHA has up to six months by law to complete their investigation. If regulations were violated, they can impose fines.

A final report is then available to the public.

U.S. Congressman Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) said in a tweet that he was monitoring the situation: “Please join me in praying for the safety of all those involved.”

The Killen Station opened in 1982 and closed in May 2018, along with another big coal-fire plant near the Ohio River in Adams County, J.M. Stuart, in response to declining market conditions, according to Dayton Power & Light.

Killen Station was a 618-megawatt facility co-owned by AES Ohio Gen and Vistra Energy with a coal-fired generating unit and combustion turbine, the utility said in a news release when the facility closed.

The station provided safe, reliable power and was an integral part of Adams County’s economy and a partner in the community, according to Craig Jackson, president and chief executive officer of DPL Inc.

“We are incredibly proud of the men and women at the plants and thank them for their dedicated service,” he said in the news release.

The release also said:

“DPL recognizes the extent of the impact the decision to retire the J.M. Stuart and the Killen Stations has on our people and the communities in which they live. We are proactively managing workforce transitions, including opportunities to be redeployed within AES’ portfolio, as well as financial support for workforce development and job retraining efforts in Adams County.”

In January, Commercial Liability Partners announced in a news release on its website that it took over remediation of Dayton Power & Light’s plants.

The Commercial Liability Partners said it was focusing on the development of remediation plans and hoped to repurpose the site for future redevelopment.

“Our goal on this project – as it is on every project – is to minimize disturbance to the local community and to maximize the potential for long-term opportunity,” the company’s president said in the release.

Like so many others, people in the community and former Killen Station workers are left with questions on how this happened. Some of those with questions shared their thoughts with FOX19 NOW.

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