Investigators still not sure what caused Plant Bowen explosion

by: Ross Cavitt Updated:

Authorities are investigating an explosion at a coal plant in Bartow County.

EUHARLEE, Ga. - The investigation continues into what caused an explosion at a Bartow County power plant Thursday.

News Chopper 2 flew over Plant Bowen Friday where side panels knocked out by explosion could be seen at the huge complex.

Channel 2's Ross Cavitt talked to officials from Georgia Power, who said neighbors and workers might have a long wait before getting any answers as to what caused the explosion.

Janice Dillard told Cavitt Thursday's blast shook pictures off her wall.

Georgia Power said the explosion caused significant damage to a generator. The company and workers said they were thankful the casualty list was low.

"You can tell that by talking to some of the other employees how fortunate we feel (that) we got out with no serious injuries," said John Kroft with Georgia Power.

Kraft says crews were bringing the generator offline for maintenance when it exploded. They have no idea yet why.

"It's like, 'What happened?' It shook the entire building you could feel it inside your body even," restaurant owner Johnny Mitchell told Cavitt.

Mitchell runs a restaurant just down the road from the main gate and serves many Plant Bowen workers.

Like thousands in the area, Mitchell said he felt the blast. Once he learned there were no serious injuries, his next thoughts turned to the local economy.

"Well you worry about it. You hope nobody loses any hours. You know the economy keeps rolling. It affects everybody," Mitchell said.

But Georgia Power said for now, everyone's on the job even though the plant will be down as the investigation ramps up, which looks like it will take a while.

"We're trying to make sure everything is safe. There is debris in that area so we need to make sure it's safe for the workers to get in there to make that determination," Kroft said.

OSHA investigators have started a probe into the blast, authorities said. The agency has up to six months to report its findings. The accident will also be reviewed by Georgia's Public Service Commission, which regulates electric utilities in the state. If the company is deemed at-fault for the accident and it causes electricity costs to rise, the utility could face financial penalties.

"The commission will expect a full report on the outage and what happened and why," Commissioner Stan Wise said. "And there will be a review."