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March 24, 2008
Contact: Rich Kulczewski David Sims
Phone: 303-844-1302 202-693-1898

U.S. Department of Labor's OSHA issues $1 million in penalties to RPI Coating Inc. and Xcel Energy
Preventable tunnel fire claimed five lives

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) today proposed $845,100 in penalties against RPI Coating Inc. of Santa Fe Springs, Calif., and $189,900 in proposed penalties against the Public Service Co. of Colorado, doing business as Xcel Energy, for alleged serious and willful violations of federal workplace safety and health standards following a tunnel fire last year that killed five employees.

"This catastrophe could have been avoided if the companies had followed their critical safety procedures," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Edwin G. Foulke Jr. "There should never be such a disregard for the safety of employees. Today's citations should serve as a reminder to all employers about the critical need to always provide a safe and healthful workplace for their employees."

The fire began at the Xcel Energy Cabin Creek hydroelectric plant in Georgetown, Colo., on Oct. 2, 2007, while employees were in a tunnel cleaning a sprayer with a flammable solvent. Vapor from the solvent ignited, causing the fire. Four employees escaped, but five employees working deeper inside the tunnel were un