Xcel on trial for 5 deaths at Georgetown, Colo.

Associated Press Published: May 31, 2011

DENVER (AP) — A criminal trial for the deaths of five workers at a hydroelectric plant has started in Denver in the rare prosecution of a company.

Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy and subsidiary Public Service Company of Colorado are each charged in federal court with five counts of violating Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations.

The charges stem from the October 2007 fire inside a water tunnel at the Cabin Creek hydroelectric plant near Georgetown, Colo.

The workers were using flammable solvents when the tunnel caught fire and trapped them inside. A report found they died from smoke inhalation.

If convicted, each company could be fined up to $2.5 million.

Xcel blamed its subcontractor RPI Coatings Inc. That company and two executives are charged separately.

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Information from: The Denver Post, http://www.denverpost.com