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Ceremony to mark 40th anniversary of Willow Island cooling tower disaster


The Parkersburg News and Sentinel

The names of the 51 construction workers who were killed on April 27, 1978, are affixed in perpetuity at a monument where the community will observe the 40th anniversary of the accident at 6 p.m. today. Fifty-one lanterns carried aloft by hot air balloons with each man’s name will be released in the ceremony.
(News and Sentinel photo by Art Smith)

WILLOW ISLAND, W.Va.  — A ceremony marking the 40th anniversary of the Pleasants Power Station cooling tower disaster at Willow Island will be held at 6 p.m. today at a marker commemorating the tragedy that killed 51 workers.

The accident occurred around 10 a.m. April 27, 1978, during the construction of a second cooling tower at the Pleasants Power Station on West Virginia 2 in Willow Island. A device carrying concrete to the top of the tower failed, starting events causing the scaffold to pull its anchors from the concrete and falling to the ground about 170 feet below.

“I hope a lot of family and friends attend,” said Angie Colvin, an organizer who lost 13 members of her family in the disaster, including her father, Larry Gale Steele. She was a fifth-grader at the time.

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