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4 critically hurt in Mass. chemical plant blast

Officials said there was no fire and no chemicals were released into the air; the cause of the blast is under investigation


The Associated Press

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. — An explosion at a Dow Chemical plant in northeastern Massachusetts on Thursday critically injured four people and damaged the building where a worker was killed in another blast in 2013, authorities said.

Firefighters, paramedics and police responded to the plant in North Andover, about 30 miles north of Boston, at about 2:30 p.m. Officials said there was no fire, and no chemicals were released into the air. The cause of the blast was under investigation.

Officials at Lawrence General Hospital said four people with shrapnel and burn injuries were brought to the hospital in critical condition. They were decontaminated outside according to hospital policy before being brought in, officials said. Three of the victims were later transferred to hospitals in Boston after being stabilized.

"The injuries we saw were consistent with a chemical explosion," said Dr. George Kondylis, chief of emergency medicine at Lawrence General.

The hospital defines patients in critical condition as having unstable vital signs and possibly having lost consciousness, with unfavorable or questionable indicators.

The victims' names weren't released.

Officials with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration were among the investigators at the scene.

A spokeswoman for Dow Chemical didn't return a message seeking comment Thursday.

North Andover Town Manager Andrew Maylor said safety at the plant has "not been a community concern," despite the deadly 2013 explosion.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with those who are injured, and hopefully they will recover," Maylor said.

In October 2013, an explosion at the plant killed lab worker Carlos Amaral, 51, of Peabody. Authorities said the blast occurred when trimethylindium, a volatile chemical, came into contact with air, due to either a container malfunction or human error.

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