Friday, May 12, 2023

Update on PCI Synthesis: acetone and IPA in reactors

From the Daily News of Newburyport, MA (article by Jim Sullivan): 

NEWBURYPORT — Demolition of the Seqens/PCI Synthesis pharmaceutical factory’s damaged addition won’t begin until next week, the city’s Building Department announced Thursday.

A 62-year-old Methuen man was killed and four others were injured May 4 in a chemical explosion at the Opportunity Way site that sent a massive vat through the addition’s roof and roughly 30 feet into a parking lot.

Firefighters and contractors have been at the site ever since but city Chief of Staff Andrew Levine said the Fire Department on Wednesday finished its “hero’s work” of overseeing the removal of two other vats containing potentially hazardous chemicals such as acetone and isopropyl alcohol.

Acting Fire Chief Stephen Bradbury III said a few drums still remain in the building and his department is on call on an as-needed basis.

Building Commissioner Greg Earls now has control over the building and said demolition of the addition will begin soon.

“I haven’t seen any plans for dismantling, so the clock hasn’t started at all,” he said. “No dismantling is going to happen until the plans are approved by the Building Department and that may be well into next week.”

Seqens issued a press release Thursday, stating the demolition should affect roughly 20% of the building’s capacity.

The company also stated that potential environmental impacts have been monitored ever since the accident and it will continue to monitor and communicate all relevant data to authorities, including the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

It is genuinely weird to me that the chemicals involved in the explosion don't seem to be particularly, well, explosive. I guess it would be important to understand what process was going on. Strange.  


  1. My money is on runaway reaction.

  2. I suspect those chemicals were just present on the scene, and not necessarily in the reactor that went kaboom.


looks like Blogger doesn't work with anonymous comments from Chrome browsers at the moment - works in Microsoft Edge, or from Chrome with a Blogger account - sorry! CJ 3/21/20