Fire Sparks Concern Over Tennessee Biofuel Refinery

– by Jeni Diprizio, March 18, 2016, Local Memphis



This isn’t the first time Memphis firefighters have been called to the Agrileum plant.

Neighbors say there was a small fire there just a few weeks ago. And in 2014, the facility was under state and county investigation.

Senior investigator Jeni Diprizio was at the plant after a chemical spill. Neighbors have been concerned about the facility for quite some time.

“When it first blew up, we were sitting right here,” recalled Andrew Blanton.

Residents who live near the biofuel plant say it’s been a concern for decades.

“It shouldn’t be here. It should be on Presidents Island or something,” said Ricky Blanton.

They say they are worried about fires and chemical spills.

This was the scene in 2014. According to health department records, a line at the plant burst and caused a large spill of a dangerous chemical.

Even though the company thought it was cleaned up, five months later, it was discovered the line was still leaking. A second cleanup was ordered.

Then the company installed a basin and sump pump to contain future spills. Both the health department and State of Tennessee oversaw that.

Neighbors say today’s fire is just another example of why the plant doesn’t belong in this neighborhood.

“It’s dangerous. If it blew up, it would get all these houses down here,” said Betty Smith.

The Local I-Team contacted state officials and was told they couldn’t give details over the phone. They said we would need to come in and look at the plant’s file to see if they have had any other problems or failed inspections over the past two years.

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