NEWBURYPORT, Mass. — Several explosions rocked a plant in Massachusetts that manufactures chemicals used in medicines Thursday morning, blowing a hole in the roof and leading to an evacuation but no injuries, authorities said.
Authorities said there is no public health threat resulting from the blasts at the building occupied by Seqens North America, formerly PCI Synthesis, in Newburyport, about 35 miles north of Boston. But the explosions come a year after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration found “serious” violations in the company's management of highly hazardous chemicals, according to online agency records.
The company blamed a mechanical issue for Thursday's blasts.
“At this time, we believe it was a mechanical issue from our steam line, and that there was no fire and that the sprinkler system was not discharged," the company said in a statement late Thursday morning.
Firefighters responding to an alarm initially went to the building about 4:30 a.m. They encountered “heavy black smoke” and evacuated the building after hearing three explosions, Deputy Fire Chief Stephen Bradbury said.
There were about 10 workers in the building at the time but no reports of injuries, authorities said. One employee was evaluated by emergency medical services at the scene but declined transportation to the hospital. Three more explosions took place about 15 minutes later, including one that blew a 5-foot-by-8-foot (1.5-meter-by-2.5-meter) hole in the roof, Bradbury said.Steam lines don't provide black smoke, but we can wait for the follow-up reports. Here's hoping every one is all right.