Newburyport Officials Expect Demolition Soon at Exploded Plant Where Methuen Man Died

Fire crews and private contractors remained at the PCI Synthesis/Seqens plant on Monday. (Courtesy photograph.)

The owner of a Newburyport chemical plant that exploded early last Thursday and took the life of a Methuen man, has until Wednesday morning to begin demolition of a damaged building addition.

Mayor Sean R. Reardon and Fire Chief Stephen H. Bradbury III said the city had been awaiting the arrival of insurance adjustors from Europe and expect demolition could begin Tuesday afternoon. The Newburyport Building Department was on scene throughout the weekend and on Monday morning. They said if no further dangers or problems are discovered, officials and investigators will clear the area to allow demolition to begin.

The body of a missing worker, 62-year-old Jack O’Keefe, was found on Thursday afternoon at the PCI Synthesis/Seqens plant. Four workers were earlier treated at a local hospital and released.

On Monday, hazardous materials technicians and crews remained on scene, removing the final eight 55-gallon drums of chemicals, and draining approximately 2,000 gallons of chemicals from chemical reactors at the plant. Additionally, a contractor has been brought in to shore up the steel supports to replace a crane that has been holding up the building since Friday.

While the explosion appears related to a chemical manufacturing process and does not appear suspicious, officials said, the exact cause remains under investigation by the Newburyport Fire Department, State Police Fire and Explosion Investigation Unit assigned to the State Fire Marshal’s office and State Police assigned to the Essex County District Attorney’s office.

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