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Wednesday, Nov 22, 2017
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Times investigation: Tampa Electric knew the procedure was dangerous. It sent workers in anyway.

TAMPA — The blast happened suddenly, with enough force to toss Carlton Nelson across the power plant's floor.

When he came to, the veteran Tampa Electric mechanic lifted his head and squinted. The tank he had been trying to fix was spewing a deadly substance called slag from an open door, like a volcano gushing lava. Nearby, a forklift was melting in the molten goo.

That was in 1997. After, Tampa Electric wrote special guidelines so another accident like it would never happen again.

Then two decades later, almost to the day, five workers were killed, burned to death performing a near-identical job at the utility's Big Bend Power Station in June.

If Tampa Electric had followed the guidelines, the men would still be alive.

Read the Times investigation: Hellfire from above

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