NEWBURYPORT — Local firefighters and environmental crews returned to the crippled Seqens pharmaceutical site off Opportunity Way to continue the cleanup after a chemical explosion Thursday morning killed a Methuen man and injured four other workers.
Meanwhile, Mayor Sean Reardon told the City Council on Monday he would be surprised if Seqens ever resumed operations in Newburyport.
“I don’t envision them ever opening their doors here again,” he said.
Hours before speaking to the council, Reardon announced that Seqens must begin demolishing an addition to the building where the massive explosion took place. Demolition was expected to begin Tuesday afternoon but acting Fire Chief Stephen Bradbury III said that timeline would be pushed back at least a day.
Jack O’Keefe’s body was recovered roughly 18 hours after the 12:45 a.m. blast near where first responders expected to find him. He was 62.
In preparation for demolition, hazardous materials crews were busy Monday removing eight 55-gallon drums of chemicals, while roughly 2,000 gallons of chemicals were being drained from two vats.
The explosion sent a third vat through the roof and into the parking lot at least 30 feet away. Work was halted late Monday afternoon before the job was completed due to high winds. The cleanup resumed Tuesday morning....
It's pretty hard to imagine the people of that town agreeing to let PCI Synthesis start processing chemicals again. I would really like to know what the heck they were making. There was a brief reference to making something for burn patients, but I don't think we have further evidence of that. While I think it is possible that there was simply a fire, this report of the deceased operator finding a room that was too hot indicates there might have been a runaway.
Continued condolences to the O'Keefe family and the entire PCI team.