Former TECO employee describes what makes a TECO plant so dangerous

2 killed, 4 hurt at Big Bend Power Plant
Posted at 6:23 PM, Jun 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-30 18:23:09-04

A day after two were killed, and four others seriously injured, in an industrial work accident at TECO's Big Bend Power Plant, we asked a former TECO employee what makes working at the power plant so dangerous.

Anthony Knight describes life-threatening conditions at the Big Bend Power Plant; he says it's not TECO's fault, it's just the nature of the work.

"Every afternoon we have the dangerous job of just going to work," Knight tells ABC Action News.

Knight was especially shaken by the accident on Thursday, because if he could still work, he'd likely have been there for the accident. That was his job and his shift.

"The first thing you hear is pipes moving and working and stuff and I'd say, please Lord don't let this blow up," recalls Knight.

Knight was forced to retire early in 2013 after getting hurt on the job. His job for 9 years was to make sure melted coal slag flowed properly through large containers.

It's grueling work.

"Man you walk on the slag tanks, [almost] literally your feet start melting! It's that hot!" says Knight.

When things got too clogged, says Knight, they'd call in a water-blasting crew. 

In this case, it was Gaffin Industrial Services.

"So they stick the pipes in and they shoot that water. They got a high pressure truck down at the bottom and the hoses coming up top. And the water burst is like dynamite," explains Knight. "You're talking about pressure!"

TECO's CEO says that's what a crew was doing Thursday when that molten "slag" suddenly released on to the crew.

Knight says he spent every work day for years fearing something like this would happen to him.

"It's hot. But the money is good! So you're risking your life for the money, for your family," says Knight.

Despite the dangers, and despite his disabilities, Knight only good things to say about TECO.

"TECO stresses safety," says Knight, saying they took many precautions and had daily safety meetings.

"It's a very dangerous safe place. For real."