Local News

Friday, Aug 23 2013 05:34 PM

PG&E fires demolition contractor

  1. 1 of 2

    By Autumn Parry / The Californian

    A Cleveland Wrecking Co. excavator sits to the right of the two demolished towers of the old Pacific Gas & Electric steam power plant on Aug. 5 after the implosion knocked them to the ground early Aug. 3.

    click to expand click to collapse
  2. 2 of 2

    By Autumn Parry / The Californian

    The two remaining towers of the old Pacific Gas & Electric steam power plant are on their sides Aug. 4 after the implosion knocked them to the ground at Coffee Road and Rosedale Highway early Aug. 3.

    click to expand click to collapse
BY JOHN COX Californian staff writer jcox@bakersfield.com

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. has terminated its contract with the company it hired to manage the power plant demolition job that critically injured a Bakersfield man this month and last year killed a Los Angeles man.

The San Francisco-based utility fired Covina-based Cleveland Wrecking Co. Friday "because they failed to perform to our satisfaction on the project," PG&E spokesman Denny Boyles said.

Cleveland declined to comment.

PG&E hopes to find a replacement soon to finish the job -- largely consisting of disassembly at this point -- under the guidance of a new, state-monitored program designed to address safety problems at the company's power plant demolitions. That means an outside expert would be brought in to help PG&E select and oversee a new contractor.

Cal-OSHA has ordered that no work be done at the demolition site just south of Rosedale Highway until the agency finishes its investigation. Whatever company PG&E hires to complete the job would be expected to move around materials to assist with the agency's investigation.

The California Public Utilities Commission is also investigating the 6 a.m. Aug. 3 accident, which sprayed debris eastward across Coffee Road, injuring several people. The legs of Bakersfield resident Jerry Wood, 43, a sales and marketing director, were severely injured.

Wood's Bakersfield attorney, Dennis Thelen, said Friday his client has suffered a setback: bone-grafting on his right leg "did not take" and will have to be repeated.

Wood's spirits are nevertheless good, Thelen said, despite nearly two dozen procedures since the accident. His lawyer said it's possible Wood will return to Bakersfield within 10 days from San Francisco's California Pacific Medical Center for limited rehabilitation. If not, Wood would be transferred to Stanford Hospital for additional medical attention.

The utility's new contractor safety program was launched on a limited basis in April after a review of "root cause analyses" of two fatal demolitions of PG&E power plants. The first of these took place in San Francisco in January 2008; the other was at the Bakersfield plant in June of last year.

PG&E has declined to release either analysis.

In the Bakersfield case, Boyles said the report contains sensitive information about the injuries suffered by the Los Angeles man who fell to his death while torch-cutting a large tank at the plant, 51-year-old Luis Roberto Minjarez, who worked for Cleveland.

Minjarez's family may not be aware of the injury details, Boyles said, and so PG&E has asked the CPUC to edit out such information.

A CPUC spokesman wrote in an email Friday that agency lawyers are still reviewing the accident analyses and expect to release the reports next week.

Cal-OSHA has levied $20,250 in fines against Cleveland for the accident, mostly because the tank did not have lateral support. The company has appealed the penalty. PG&E has said Cleveland has accepted responsibility for the accident.

Boyles would not say whether this month's plant demolition was conducted under the provisions of the safety program. But he emphasized that the utility's contract with Cleveland predated the program.

The CPUC spokesman noted that the agency is investigating whether the safety program was in effect at this month's demolition.

"PG&E developed a new program to address the CPUC's contractor safety objective, and now the CPUC is looking at whether PG&E applied the program to contractors already on board, such as Cleveland Wrecking Company, or intended to apply the program on a going-forward basis," spokesman Chris Chow wrote.

PG&E said Cleveland's exit ends the involvement of two subcontractors that worked on the demolition: Lincoln-based Alpha Explosives and DuBois, Wyo.-based Demtech Inc.

Have something to share? Comment on this story

Bakersfield.com Daily Deal!

Valley Comedy

Daily Deal

50% off Comedy Show Tickets

Value
$10
% Off
50%
You Save
$5
3 Bought
Buy Now! See more deals