Settlement Reached in 2006 Ink Plant Explosion in Massachusetts

August 15, 2011

Federal officials said they have reached agreement with the owners and a former operator of an inks and paint products manufacturing facility in Danvers, Mass., that exploded and burned in 2006 the day before Thanksgiving.

Under a consent decree lodged by the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the owners and operator will pay the U.S. government a projected $1.3 million, including cash and the net proceeds from sale of the facility property, assuming the property sells for its appraised value. Most of that recovery will go to reimburse EPA for its $2.7 million in costs of cleaning up hazardous waste after the explosion.

In addition, operator C.A.I. Inc. will pay EPA a penalty of $100,000 to settle allegations that conditions at the facility violated the Clean Air Act.

The consent decree resolves claims in a complaint against former operator C.A.I. and owners Sartorelli Realty LLC and Roy A. Nelson as trustee of the Nelson Danvers Realty Trust. A separate consent decree with former operator Arnel Co. Inc. was entered by the court in July 2011.

Officials said that the settlement amounts in both consent decrees were based on demonstrations by the settling defendants of limited financial resources.

“This case demonstrates that a failure to implement basic safety mechanisms and follow obligations under the law can have dire consequences,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “The extent of damage from this explosion shows why it is so important that facilities follow basic chemical safety practices. Companies that fail to comply with laws that protect public health and our environment will be held accountable.”

Nov. 22, 2006, at the C.A.I. and Arnel industrial building in Danvers. On the night of Nov. 22, 2006, a series of explosions demolished the manufacturing facility. C.A.I. and Arnel stored and used ignitable and flammable substances in their manufacturing of solvent-based ink, paint, thinners and/or industrial coatings.

The explosion and subsequent fire destroyed the 12,000 square foot building, and the surrounding commercial and residential community experienced structural and property damage from the blast. Approximately 24 homes and six businesses were severely damaged and subsequently demolished; another 70 homes were damaged. An estimated 300 residents within a half-mile radius of the facility were evacuated by the Danvers fire department. Firefighting efforts lasted nearly 17 hours. While several people were injured and hospitalized, no fatalities occurred.

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