Explosion in Newburyport Sends Four Workers to the Hospital, One Worker Still Missing

May 04, 2023


Jame Jones, Communications Coordinator
(857) 301-7730

Explosion in Newburyport Sends Four Workers to the Hospital, One Worker Still Missing

BOSTON The Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH) anxiously awaits news of a worker who’s gone missing during an explosion at a pharmaceutical processing facility in Newburyport, which is owned by a company named Seqens.

According to Newburyport Fire Chief Steve Bradbury, firefighters were called to the scene just before 1:00am, arriving to the aftermath of a “violent explosion,” which had launched an “industrial-sized vat” into the parking lot, 30 feet from the building. There were five workers in the building at the time of the explosion. Four of them were hospitalized, treated, and have since been released, but there is still one worker who is missing.

Seqens, which was previously named PCI Synthesis, received citations from OSHA for six violations in 2019 for insufficient protections against highly hazardous chemicals. In 2020, this same facility had several explosions after a chemical reaction caused a storage drum to explode upwards through the roof of the building. Following this incident, OSHA conducted another inspection and cited the company again for five violations for failing to provide adequate protections against highly hazardous chemicals. In 2021, they received citations for two more violations from OSHA, this time pertaining to flammable liquids and hazardous waste operations and emergency response.

“There is clearly a documented history from OSHA of negligence committed by this nonunion company towards the safety of its workers” said MassCOSH Chief of Strategy & Engagement Al Vega. “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.”

For 47 years, MassCOSH has been fighting for safe working conditions and mourning the workers who are killed each year on the job. With this incident happening just on the heels of our 2023 Workers’ Memorial Day ceremony, where we mourned the losses of 51 workers who were killed on the job in 2022, the status of this missing worker weighs heavily on our hearts and minds as we await more news.