A 200-foot-deep shaft in a sewage treatment plant near Atlanta nearly became the tomb of two workers who were killed when the scaffolding on which they were standing collapsed yesterday. Six other employees standing on the scaffolding survived the fall, with two remaining hospitalized today in stable condition.
When the scaffolding collapsed, the workers were all thrown to the bottom of the shaft. The two employees who did not survive- whose names have not been released by authorities - plummeted into quick-drying cement.
As many as 40 rescue workers descended on the scene, using 300 pounds of sugar to try to slow the setting time of the concrete. One body was recovered yesterday, while rescue workers struggled another 14 hours to free the second body from the cement.
The men, who were employed by Archer Western Contractors Ltd., were using steel and concrete to reinforce the walls of a shaft at the R. L. Sutton water treatment plant expansion project in Cobb County. The shaft is part of a nine-mile tunnel that will carry sewage to a treatment center at the Chattahoochee River.
One rescuer, Gwinnett County Fire Chief Randy Robinson, said the situation was "one of the worst I''ve seen," adding, "It''s a mess down there." He said the debris from the steel and the collapsed scaffolding in the shaft hampered efforts to reach the second body.
Robert Quigley, spokesman for the Cobb County government, said it was too early to tell what caused the scaffolding to collapse. Investigators from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) began to examine the site after the second body was removed this morning at 8 a.m.
by Sandy Smith ([email protected])