A high-powered explosion blew the roof off a Massachusetts pharmaceutical plant early Thursday morning, according to reports and aerial footage.
The explosion occurred at around 1 a.m. at the Seqens North America plant in Newburyport and sent four people to the hospital, according to local news outlet WCVB. One worker remains missing.
Most of the roof blew off and an industrial-sized vat was ejected 30 feet out of the building into a parking lot, the Associated Press (AP) reported. (RELATED: Video Shows Unsuspecting Man Narrowly Escape Laundromat Explosion)
— Jeff Saperstone (@JeffNBCBoston) May 4, 2023
“At this time, we believe it was a mechanical issue from our steam line, and that there was no fire and that the sprinkler system was not discharged,” Seqens North America said in a statement cited by AP.
The plant reportedly has a checkered history, with a series of explosions in 2020 and a chemical fire in 2021. Both the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have cited the plant for violations in the past, according to AP.
Twitter users shared aerial footage reportedly showing the aftermath of the explosion:
AERIAL IMAGES show the damage & debris field from the explosion at a Newburyport pharmaceutical plant which occurred early this morning on Opportunity Way. There is still 1 worker unaccounted for, crews haven’t entered due to structural issues. pic.twitter.com/UlSHdN23yG
— Keith (@BostonTVPhotog) May 4, 2023
— Ken Lucas (@one_tall_photog) May 4, 2023
It remains unclear exactly what caused the explosion, and whether the vat played any role, according to AP. Fire Chief Stephen Bradbury III told the outlet there is no danger to nearby homes.