Dow Chemical Co.

Explosion Rocks Dow Chemical Co. Facility, Four Seriously Injured

Jan. 11, 2016
An explosion at the Dow Chemical Co. in North Andover, Mass., is the second since 2013.

An explosion at a Dow Chemical Co. (IW500/20) plant in North Andover, Mass., has triggered a call from the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety & Health (MassCOSH) for “a complete review of how chemicals are handled at the plant.” The review “needs to occur immediately,” according to MassCOSH.

Five workers were injured – four seriously – in a Jan. 7 explosion at a lab at the facility. According to reports, trimethylaluminum, a chemical that is used to make LED lights and electronics and is reactive with air and water, mixed with water and created a powerful reaction. This is the second explosion at the facility, where a worked died in October 2013.

North Andover Fire Lieutenant Robert Bonenfant called the two incidents “very different” and it is not thought that they had similar risk factors or triggers. The company is working closely with investigators to determine the cause of the blast.

Regardless of cause, “Two explosions, one of which resulted in the loss of life, in just over two years is simply unacceptable,” said Jeff Newton, membership and communications coordinator for MassCOSH. “Few laboratory chemicals are without hazards and MassCOSH is demanding further precautions for handling all laboratory chemicals at DOW be adopted.”

The New England Consortium (TNEC) a worker health and safety training organization based at University of Massachusetts Lowell, of which MassCOSH is a training partner, works with industries throughout New England that handle hazardous chemicals to train workers on chemical safety, including rapid response for workers who first enter situations like that which occurred at DOW.

The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board is currently collecting information about this incident.

EHS Today is an IndustryWeek companion site within Penton's Manufacturing & Supply Chain Group.

About the Author

Sandy Smith | Editor-in-Chief

Sandy Smith is editor-in-chief of EHS Today, a Penton publication. She has been writing about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990. She has been interviewed about occupational safety and health for documentaries and television programs, has served as a panelist on roundtables, has provided the keynote address for occupational safety and health conferences and has won national and international awards for her articles.

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