Massachusetts paints producer to pay $1.3m for 2006 blast

15 August 2011 19:32  [Source: ICIS news]

Neighbourhood damage from Danvers plant blastWASHINGTON (ICIS)--The owners and operator of a Massachusetts inks and paints plant that exploded in November 2006 and destroyed or damaged 100 nearby homes and businesses will pay $1.3m (€910,000) in compensation and fines, federal officials said on Monday.

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) said it has reached a consent settlement with plant operator CAI and two owners of the Danvers, Massachusetts, facility that will repay part of the $2.7m that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) spent in cleaning up the accident site.

The settlement amount is short of the full clean-up cost, the department said, because the operator and the facility owners - Sartorelli Realty and Nelson Danvers Realty Trust - demonstrated that they lacked financial resources to pay more.

The $1.3m settlement was expected to be paid with proceeds from sale of the vacant plant site, the department said.

In addition, CAI was to pay a $100,000 penalty to dispose of allegations that it failed to implement safety measures and procedures at the facility as required by the Clean Air Act (CAA).

The explosion that levelled the 12,000 square-foot CAI plant at 0230 local time on 22 November 2006 also damaged 24 nearby homes and six businesses so severely that they had to be razed. Another 70 homes were damaged.

Although no one was killed in the incident, several neighbourhood residents were injured and hospitalised, and 300 other residents had to be evacuated while fire fighters struggled for 17 hours to extinguish the solvents-fed blaze.

In a November 2007 analysis, the US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) said that a solvents mixing vessel was inadvertently heated overnight while the plant was closed, generating a highly volatile solvent vapour that filled the facility and eventually ignited.

Compounding the accidental heating of the solvents vessel, the board said, the plant operator routinely turned off the facility’s ventilation system at night in order to reduce noise in the community.

It took three months for EPA to clean up the site, the department said.  

The accident caused some contention between the CSB and Danvers fire and police authorities, who had barred the board's investigators from the blast site for five days on jurisdictional grounds. 

($1 = €0.70)

By: Joe Kamalick
+1 713 525 2653

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