A final report on the chemical explosion in Danversport 18 months ago contains recommendations to improve rules governing the storage of flammable materials that could serve as a guideline for communities across the country, federal investigators said.
"We certainly hope and believe [the report] will become a national model," said Daniel Horowitz, spokesman for the US Chemical Safety Board, a federal panel that investigated the explosion at a factory where ink and paint were made. "We will be looking at national measures governing flammable materials in the hopes that something like this never happens again."
The safety board on Tuesday is to release its final report about the explosion, which occurred on Nov. 22, 2006. The blast, which damaged about 270 homes and commercial buildings, was caused by a buildup of chemical vapors inside the plant that were ignited by an unknown source, investigators concluded.
The plant was occupied by two companies, CAI Inc. of Georgetown, an ink maker, and Arnel Co., a maker of industrial paint. Officials at CAI, which owned the plant, did not return a call seeking comment. W. Paul Needham, a Boston lawyer representing CAI, declined to comment.
The 100-page report will be presented at a public meeting scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Sheraton Ferncroft hotel in Danvers. The five-member federal panel will also take public comments and conduct a panel discussion with local and state officials and a representative of Safe Area for Everyone, a group formed by Danvers neighbors.
"People had, and still have, a lot of questions, " said Susan Tropeano, an organizer of the neighborhood group. "I think we'll find the answers in this report."
Horowitz said the report will be "broadly consistent" with the board's preliminary findings, released last May, which found the plant was in violation of safety regulations for handling flammable chemicals, and state and federal agencies had not properly inspected it.
"This is truly a comprehensive analysis," Horowitz said in a telephone interview from Washington. "We look at the fire codes at the national and state level, we look at safety standards, the state licensing and permitting system. We'll be making recommendations at all levels."
The explosion prompted the state fire marshal's office to start an inspection program for small chemical plants across the state, and legislation has been filed to train state fire investigators and local fire departments to inspect chemical processes in manufacturing plants.
"The legislation will give some teeth to our enforcement," said Jennifer Mieth, spokeswoman for the state fire marshal's office. "This was a terrible tragedy . . . but we have made progress on new regulations."
About five houses still need to be repaired in the neighborhood, including a group home owned by the state. Some businesses have yet to reopen.
"The neighborhood has come a long way," said Danvers Town Manager Wayne P. Marquis. Of the report, he said, "I think people feel this will bring about closure."
Kathy McCabe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org