Plant Fire Kills Worker at Dow

Friday, October 18, 2013 @ 11:10 AM gHale

A Dow Chemical production operator died after a fire and explosion Oct. 9 at the company’s electronic materials plant in North Andover, MA.

Carlos A. Amaral, 51, of Peabody, MA, died from injuries sustained in a fire caused by the exposure of trimethylindium to air, according to the Massachusetts state fire marshal. Trimethylindium, used to make semiconductors, ignites spontaneously in air.

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“Either there was a malfunction of the container or human error,” said Andover Fire Chief Andrew Melnikas.
Amaral may have been working alone in the lab where the fire occurredMelnikas said.

The building fire suppression system put out the fire. No other employees suffered injuries, Dow said. The company is investigating the incident.

The federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) is also investigating the fire, said Jeffrey A. Erskine, director of the agency’s North Boston area office.

Amaral was born in Angola and lived in Portugal before moving to the U.S. in 1979, according to his obituary. He had worked at the Dow site for over 10 years more than a decade.

“He was truly a highly valued member of our team and a role model for his coworkers,” said Julie Thyne, manufacturing leader for the Dow site.

Due to new requirements regarding hazardous materials processing created in the wake of several chemical explosions in the state, Dow will likely soon have to apply for a permit from the local Fire Department for the very process they were working on in the lab when Amaral died, the state fire marshal said.

“I believe the chemical process safety regulations being phased in will provide better communication and coordination with the fire service and lead to improved fire safety for workers and communities,” said state Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan. Those regulations don’t go into effect until Jan. 1, 2014.

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