WELDER’S TORCH THE FOCUS OF PROBE INTO EXPLOSION

Investigators are looking into whether a welder’s torch was responsible for Sunday’s blast in Middletown that killed five and injured 12. It occurred during the dangerous process of purging, or cleaning, of the underground, high-pressure natural-gas pipeline that runs about 800 to 1,000 feet through the facility.

The Hartford Courant cited sources that said there are other concerns that included:

• The welder’s torch and other welding operations weren’t entirely halted and other ignition sources may have been present during the purging Sunday morning;

• That the area wasn’t completely cleared of workers and vehicles during the operation;

• Clutter and other safety issues at the site had delayed the purging operation for a short time and caused it to be re-scheduled to Sunday;

• That high-pressure natural gas was used to purge the pipe, as opposed to non-flammable nitrogen, which had been used for other operations at the plant;

• That the fill material covering the pipe was not compacted to a sufficient degree.

Deputy Middletown Fire Marshal Al Santostefano said the investigation is being conducted by multiple city, state, and federal agencies, including the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the U.S. Chemical Safety Board.
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The latest Rasmussen poll on the race for governor of Connecticut showed former ambassador to Ireland Republican Tom Foley leading the GOP field and former US Senate candidate Ned Lamont leading the Democrats. This may all be true but the poll did not include Simsbury First Selectman Mary Glassman. Any candidate or candidate’s campaign, who ignores Glassman, does so at their own peril. She is former counsel to Speaker of the House Moira Lyons, former counsel to Senate President Kevin Sullivan and former chief of staff to Sullivan when he became lieutenant governor.

As if Glassman did not have an impressive enough resume, The National Trust for Historic Preservation has named Simsbury as one of its Dozen Distinctive Destinations for 2010, recognizing the Farmington Valley town for exceptional efforts to protect its recreational and historic assets.

Main Street Partnership officials said Simsbury is the first Connecticut town to win the designation in the national program’s 10-year history. And, for the first time, the trust will run a national competition to determine which of the 12 destinations named this year will be cited as the “2010 Fan Favorite.”