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Danversport Explosion

November 20, 2007

CSB Preliminary Findings

Danvers, Massachusetts, May 9, 2007 - In preliminary findings released today, U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) investigators said that the November 2006 explosion which destroyed a local ink and paint manufacturing plant and damaged scores of nearby buildings was most likely caused by the inadvertent overheating of solvents left stirring overnight in an unsealed mixing tank, releasing flammable vapor which accumulated and ignited.

The vapor built up in the facility because the solvent ventilation system was routinely turned off when workers departed the facility at the close of business each evening, an unsafe practice which investigators called the "immediate cause" of the accident. The explosion occurred at approximately 2:45 a.m. on November 22, long after all employees had departed the facility for the night. All fuel sources for the explosion other than flammable solvent vapor - including natural gas - were ruled out.

The findings are set to be presented at a community meeting this evening in Danvers, beginning at 7 p.m. at the Sheraton Ferncroft Resort, 50 Ferncroft Road, with the five CSB board members in attendance. CSB Chairman Carolyn W. Merritt will preside. Following the presentation of findings, the Board will take comments from the public.

The explosion during the overnight hours injured ten community members, damaged or destroyed more than 100 homes and businesses up to one mile away, and damaged numerous vehicles and boats. More than 50 families still have been unable to return to their homes, CSB investigators said. No workers were injured in the blast.

"The Danversport explosion caused the most serious community damage of any U.S. chemical accident since the CSB was established in 1998," said Chairman Merritt. "But for the fortuitous timing of the explosion, nearby residents could have easily been killed by flying debris or the collapse of heavy building structures. We all have a strong stake in preventing such devastating accidents that disrupt communities."

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