Pennsylvania Record

Friday, December 13, 2019

Survivor of fatal accident files lawsuit over exposure to poisonous gas

State Court

By Carrie Bradon | Sep 3, 2019

The Bruce Mansfield Power Plant is shown. | Wikimedia Commons

PITTSBURGH – A man seriously injured in a workplace incident that killed two people filed a lawsuit against a group of companies he alleges were negligent in creating the conditions that led to his exposure to poisonous gas.

Thomas Cantwell filed a complaint Aug. 21 in the Allegheny County Court against AECOM Energy & Construction Inc. and many related AECOM entities, as well as URS Corporation.

In August 2017, Cantwell and the two other men were among six working for Enerfab who were performing maintenance and repair on a pipe at the Bruce Mansfield Power Plant in Shippingport, the suit said. AECOM, under all of its identities, had been contracted by the plant's owner to  build a dewatering facility to treat coal ash byproducts produced at the power plant. URS was brought on to handle the actual construction, the lawsuit read.

The work crew was told that the pipe it was repairing was filled with clean water, the complaint said. Just after Cantwell climbed out of the area with the pipe, it burst and produced a noxious gas believed to be hydrogen sulfide, the complaint said. Cantwell tried to rescue the two men under the pipe when it burst and was exposed to the gas, causing him to lose consciousness, the complaint said.

Two of the crew died from their exposure, and Cantwell suffered permanent damage to his nervous, cardiovascular and muscular systems; severe injuries to his arms, shoulders and back; and other ongoing injuries, the complaint said.

The complaint said Cantwell has incurred significant and ongoing medical costs. In the lawsuit, he accused all of the defendants of negligence causing the conditions for the tragedy.

The plaintiff is seeking all reasonable sums due, attorney fees and court costs. The plaintiff is represented by Robert J. Fisher of Edgar Snyder & Associates in Pittsburgh.

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