Explosion in tractor-trailer due to improper venting

  • Emergency crews were called to the industrial park in South Deerfield after an explosion at Pro Pel Plastech on Thursday, July 6, 2017.

For the Gazette
Published: 7/6/2017 10:34:53 AM

SOUTH DEERFIELD — An explosion inside a tractor-trailer parked at Pro Pel Plastech in the industrial park off Route 116 Thursday morning sent one person to Springfield’s Baystate Medical Center with minor injuries.

The explosion happened at 4 Industrial Drive East around 8:20 a.m. as the employee was unloading rolls of plastic foam from the trailer into the building. Police say he felt “extreme heat and noticed some blue flame” in the blast, which blew rolls out of the trailer around the vehicle.

He was taken to the hospital as a precaution because of the nature of his injury, with minor burns.

Although chemicals in the truck were properly marked, a preliminary investigation by the State Fire Marshal’s Office determined that “Polypropylene Foam rolls were off gassing in (the) trailer, and were not properly vented before offloading. During the process of offloading, most-likely, static electricity set of an explosion and flash fire,” said Deerfield Police Officer Adam Sokoloski in a statement.

He noted, “this was an accidental explosion, no foul play or suspicious activity was involved.”

A Hazardous Materials team compared the container’s manifest and shipping documents with what was inside, and found the trailer should have been ventilated for a specified period of time before unloading. Clean-up of the scene was fast, and by 8:40 a.m., police, fire and medical crews could be seen talking to workers and cleaning up equipment around the truck, which was still back against the building.

“We’re just happy there was only one person with non-life threatening injuries, and we had a good response,” Sokoloski said at the scene. Emergency crews were there “within a minute” of the emergency call, he said.

State and local police blocked off the eastern entrance to the industrial park. South County EMS sent two ambulances, and the South Deerfield Fire Department was there with a rescue truck. The State Police Commercial Vehicles Section and Troopers from the Shelburne Falls Barracks were also called to help out.

Pro Pel Plastech is involved in the recycling of plastics of various sorts, according to the company’s website.

This story has been updated.

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