Cal OSHA investigating accident that killed one worker and sent another to the hospital

Men were working on tank at power plant

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -  

Cal OSHA is now heading the investigation into the accident the killed one man and put another in the hospital.

They said they now have a better understanding of what the two men were doing and what went wrong.

The accident Wednesday killed 54-year-old Barry Snelson of Oildale. It also injured another man Gabe Escalera.

The men were working on a water filtration tank at the Live Oak Cogen Power Plant on Granite Road Wednesday.

23ABC reached out to Snelson's family Thursday. They declined to comment.

Escalera is still at Kern Medical Center with broken legs.

Cal OSHA said the two men were testing the tank after it had been repaired by welding.

Investigators said there was a small amount of water in the tank, and the men were putting pressurized air into the tank to check for leaks.

Cal OSHA said that during the test, Snelson and Escalera were standing on a flat floor near the bottom of the tank.

They said it sat about 6 to 12 inches above the rounded bottom of the tank.

Investigators said for some reason the pressure in the tank caused the floor to come loose and launch the two men into the air.

The men were working for Brahma Inc., a company that had been contracted to repair the tank.

Cal OSHA said it is not sure if it is standard procedure for workers to be inside the tank while it is being pressurized.

Cal OSHA said it spent most of Thursday interviewing employees as it begins what it says could be a six-month investigation.

23ABC made multiple attempts today to contact the company the men worked for.

So far, no one has returned our calls.

Kern County Environmental Health said the power plant had no violations during its last inspection in May.

23ABC could find no incidents for the contractor on the federal OSHA website.

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