Explosion at Treatment Plant

Statement from SWPCA

August 2, 2019:  At approximately 10:45 p.m. on August 1, the Stamford Water Pollution Control Authority’s wastewater treatment plant, located at 111 Harbor View Avenue, experienced an explosion, which was limited to Building 15. Building 15 contains personnel offices for the City’s Solid Waste Division, SWPCA’s sludge thickening and dewatering operations, and the sludge drying facility.  The explosion originated in and was mostly limited to the sludge-drying portion of the building, which is operated exclusively by contract with Synagro-Connecticut, LLC.   At approximately 9:30 pm, repair work commenced on an induction fan within the dryer facility.  The explosion occurred at startup of the induction fan.  The Stamford Fire Marshal has indicated in his preliminary findings that this was likely a “dust” explosion within the polycyclone dryer unit. 

 At the time of the incident, there were four individuals within the vicinity of Building 15.  One was an employee of Synagro who was evaluated at Stamford Hospital and determined to be uninjured.  The second individual was a subcontractor from Aero-Tech working for Synagro, who was treated at Stamford Hospital for minor cuts and released.  The third individual was a subcontractor from Schmidt Electric working for Synagro, who was uninjured and did not seek medical evaluation.  The fourth individual was a SWPCA employee who was walking up the north stairwell to the building.  He sustained a minor head injury, was held at Stamford Hospital overnight for evaluation, and has since been released with instructions to follow-up with his physician. 

“Life and safety is always our primary concern” said Michael Handler, Chairman of the Board of the SWPCA. “Given the extent of the damage, we were incredibly fortunate that all injuries were relatively minor and all are expected to fully recover.”

There were no environmental or health impacts as a result of the explosion. With the exception of Synagro’s sludge drying operation, there was no impact to the wastewater treatment plant’s normal operations.  There was no impact to the plant’s effluent water quality or the Long Island Sound.  At no time did the plant fail to operate within its legal permit limits.  The treatment plant does have contingencies built into its contract with Synagro to haul sludge in the event the dryer is unable to operate.  Senior staff at the plant are assisting Synagro to facilitate the hauling of sludge off-site given the likelihood of extended repairs to the sludge dryer. 

Investigations are underway by the Stamford Fire Marshal’s Office and the Building Department.  CONN-OSHA was notified shortly after the incident per normal protocol, and is on site.  Jurisdiction for private-sector employees lies with federal OSHA, as such; they too have been notified.  A safety team from Synagro and an engineer from Andritz (the manufacturer of the polycyclone dryer) are both on scene at the plant.

Additional information will be released as it becomes available.