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Severely injured workers settle for $16 million in explosion suit

Alex Trevino was one of the workers engulfed in flames when coal-dust ignited in a fireball at a We Energies plant in Oak Creek.

He was burnt so badly that his own father, who also worked at the power company, didn't recognize him as he stood nearby while rescuers worked to extinguish flames.

Trevino, 24, was one of eight contractors who just settled their workplace injury claims against the company for $16 million.

"It's not about the money," he said in an interview with the Associated Press. "This body, I know it's not me. My appearance, these scars; I know this is not me. There's no amount of money that can ever change that."

He suffered severe burns over two-thirds of his body and has undergone 17 surgeries and dozens of procedures to graft skin from his arms to his legs.

The explosion at the plant about 20 miles south of Milwaukee took place two years ago.

A We Energies spokesperson denied that the company was in any way responsible for the accident or the horrific workplace injuries the workers suffered.

Another worker said it didn't matter to him that the plaintiffs might have gotten even more money if they'd taken their case to trial rather than settling.

"It's just a giant relief that it's over," he said. "I don't care about the money."

The silo where the men were working was used to store coal dust for burning. They were inside the silo to put up scaffolding for repairs to the structure. A light used to illuminate their work ignited the coal dust.

The plaintiffs said We Energies and another company were responsible for clearing the silo of coal dust before anyone could enter. They said the companies failed to make the area safe.

Resource: Washington Post: "8 reach $16M settlement in Wis. utility explosion": February 3, 2011

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