Worker Missing After Explosion Rocks Newburyport Chemical Plant

Firefighters gather in a staging area outside the PCI/Seqens plant in Newburyport. Photo: Courtesy Newburyport Fire Department

NEWBURYPORT, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — One worker is missing and four others were hospitalized after a massive chemical plant explosion in Newburyport overnight Thursday.

First responders first got reports of the explosion at Seqens at about 12:45 a.m. on Thursday. Firefighters said the blast was so powerful it threw a car-sized industrial vat 30 feet into the parking lot. The building was seriously damaged, and firefighters couldn't safely get inside early Thursday.

Newburyport resident Robin Bornstein told WBZ's Drew Moholland that the blast "felt like an earthquake," even at her home seven miles from the plant.

Of the five workers inside the building at the time of the explosion, four were taken to a hospital and released. Another remains unaccounted for.

Newburyport fire officials emphasized Thursday afternoon that there was no danger to the public, and air meters set up around the scene's perimeter have shown no hazards in the air.

The same plant saw similar explosions just three years ago in February 2020, and another chemical fire in June 2021. Seqens faced OSHA fines of $30,000 for the 2020 explosions and citations from OSHA for the 2021 chemical fire.

"There is clearly a documented history from OSHA of negligence committed by this nonunion company towards the safety of its workers, MassCOSH Chief of Strategy & Engagement Al Vega said in a statement. "We at MassCOSH are saddened to see that Seqens ignored these many warnings from OSHA, and that this continued negligence sent four workers to the hospital and led to one worker who is still yet to be found by a rescue team. We hope that an ensuing investigation from OSHA will hold this company accountable and deter other employers from failing to protect their workers against similar chemical incidents and hazards."

This story will be updated.

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