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Updated Jan 15, 2013 - 9:38 am

OSHA finds 58 violations at Hoover Dam

LAS VEGAS — The federal agency operating Hoover Dam must correct 58 health
and safety violations that investigators found in recent inspections at the
massive Colorado River water retention and hydroelectric power plant east of Las
Vegas.

Inspectors for the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration found
violations in July and October that included lead contamination, electrical
hazards, inadequate personal protective equipment and machinery guards, and the
possibility that electric plant workers could be exposed to cancer-causing
hexavalent chromium, according to a statement released Monday by OSHA regional
chief Ken Atha.

None of the violations jeopardized the safety of the public or threatened the
structural integrity of the dam or its operations, said Terry Fulp regional
chief of the Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the dam that forms Lake Mead.

“We are taking the necessary steps to ensure the issues raised are fixed and
do not happen again,” Fulp said.

Other deficiencies stemmed from outdated design and improved safety awareness
since the dam began producing power 77 years ago, according to officials with
the OSHA office in San Francisco and Rose Davis, spokeswoman for the dam
operations office in Boulder City, outside Las Vegas.

None of the approximately 250 workers at the dam and its hydropower plant was
injured as a result of issues that OSHA identified, Davis said.

The dam was completed in 1936 and regulates the flow of the Colorado River. It
holds back the Lake Mead reservoir, which supplies almost all the drinking water
supply of Las Vegas, 30 miles away. Water released through the hydropower plant
supplies farms, businesses and homes downstream.

The hydropower plant provides
electricity to some 1.3 million homes and businesses in California, Arizona and
Nevada.

Some 1 million people a year visit the dam, including about 880,000 who tour
the colossal structure, its massive hydropower plant and its art deco
architectural elements. They weren’t endangered, Davis said.

OSHA expects a response from dam officials by the end of the month, OSHA
spokeswoman Deanne Amaden said. She added that Bureau of Reclamation officials
can seek time to correct violations.

Davis said inspectors initially told dam operations supervisors they found 77
violations. Some included improper location of fire extinguishers and placement
of extension cords. Some two dozen were quickly corrected, Davis said.

Other shortcomings, such as doors opening the wrong direction, date from the
construction of the dam in the 1930s, Davis said.

Atha said eight violations were designated as repeat offenses because OSHA has
previously notified the Bureau of Reclamation within the past five years of a
similar violation at Hoover Dam or another bureau facility in the OSHA region
including Arizona, California, Nevada, Hawaii and the Pacific.

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