Demolition set to begin at site of deadly Newburyport plant explosion as lawmakers seek answers

NEWBURYPORT, Mass. — Demolition could begin Tuesday on the pharmaceutical manufacturing plant in Newburyport that exploded last week, causing the death of one worker, as state lawmakers continue to push for answers on the company’s safety record

Work had to be halted at Seqens on Monday due to high winds and unsafe conditions at the site of Thursday’s violent blast.

A cane held up part of the facility Monday to ensure it didn’t collapse on the crews working to clean up all the chemicals inside before part of the building gets torn down.

A contractor is expected to arrive Tuesday morning to make sure the building is properly shored up. That’s because yesterday’s high winds caused some of the metal walls to shift.

Before work was paused, crews removed the final eight drums and drained about 2,000 gallons of chemicals from the reactors at the plant.

So far the investigation reveals the explosion was related to a chemical manufacturing process and does not appear to be suspicious.

Five workers were inside at the time and four made it out, but the body of 62-year-old Jack O’Keefe, of Methuen, was found later that day.

There have been numerous safety violations reported at the facility and several fines paid out, as well as a previous explosion there three years ago.

Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, along with Representative Seth Moulton, sent a letter to the company asking it to respond by today to several questions saying, “It is now painfully apparent that your company has failed to create a meaningful or effective safety culture.”

City officials have been waiting for insurance adjusters from Europe to arrive.

The hope is that demolition will begin today, if not the city has given a deadline of 8 a.m. Wednesday to start demolishing the part of the building where the explosion happened.

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