Category Archives: accidents

[NEWS] OSHA: Inadequate Training Contributed to Biomass Worker Death

– by John Lippman, August 4, 2018, Valley News

6d696027d4a245adb817f74c9e320e47Biomass power plants, a warren of hazardous machinery, can be dangerous places to work, especially if care is not taken to ensure a safe working environment. This was made tragically clear when a young man was killed while working at Springfield Power last year.

And it could have been prevented had the biomass plant followed proper training procedures for employees and ensured that the plant’s equipment was properly safeguarded, according to a recent finding by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

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[NEWS] South Dakota Ethanol Refinery Cited for Safety Violations After Worker’s Death

– November 3, 2016, CBS Minnesota

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POET biorefining (Photo: POET)

Federal investigators have found multiple safety violations at a South Dakota ethanol refinery expansion project following the death of a worker in May.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says it cited the worker’s employer, North Dakota-based Bilfinger-Westcon, with five major safety violations.

Investigators found the 38-year-old pipefitter was removing a vent line May 6 when 190-proof ethanol spilled onto him, flowed through a grated floor and was ignited by welding operations on a lower floor. The fire engulfed the man.

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[NEWS] Radioactive Fukushima Wood to Generate 20 Megawatts of Biomass Power

– by Brian Parkin, October 26, 2016, Bloomberg

Homes And Businesses In Fukushima As Five Year Anniversary Of Devastating Tsunami Approaches

Fukushima (Photo: Christopher Furlong)

Japan is turning to a small German company to generate power from timber irradiated by the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear meltdowns.

Closely held Entrade Energiesysteme AG will sell electricity from 400 of its container-sized biomass-to-power machines set up in Fukushima Prefecture, said the Dusseldorf-based company’s Chief Executive Officer Julien Uhlig. The devices will generate 20 megawatts of power by next year and function like a “biological battery” that kicks in when the sun descends on the the region’s solar panels, he said.

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[NEWS] Gainesville, FL Biomass Facility Spills 9,000 Gallons of Wastewater

– October 3, 2016, Gainesville Sun

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Gainesville Renewable Energy Center (Photo: GRU)

The Gainesville Renewable Energy Center, or GREC, announced late Monday afternoon that it accidentally discharged some 9,000 gallons of industrial-process water onto the ground.

The water, which contained a higher concentration of minerals than the water the plant uses to make power, spilled because of a power outage that led to an equipment failure at the biomass plant, according to a report by Alachua County’s Environmental Protection Department.

The 9,225 gallons would ordinarily have been pumped to a cooling tower basin, but instead mostly flowed to a storm water retention pond, company officials said.

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[NEWS] OSHA Investigates Worker Death at Ethanol Refinery

– by Katie Nelson, May 13, 2016, Argus Leader

635986722674091275-OshaFederal workplace safety officials are investigating a fatal fire last week at a Lincoln County ethanol plant.

One person was killed and another injured in the fire, which started about 6 a.m. May 6 at a Poet Biorefining plant about two miles south of Hudson.

The worker who died was working inside a distillation unit at the time of the fire, which was sparked by a welding incident, according to Sheila Stanley, the Sioux Falls area director for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The first worker was flown to a burn unit in St. Paul where he died. The other worker was treated and released.

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[NEWS] Iowa County Vulnerable To Another Biofuel or Oil Rail Spill

– by Associated Press, May 2, 2016, Washington Times

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Photo: autoblog.com

A recent Iowa rail safety study says Dubuque County remains vulnerable to crude oil or biofuels spills more than a year after several railcars carrying ethanol derailed along the Mississippi River.

The state’s Department of Transportation and Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department released the study last week, the Telegraph Herald (http://bit.ly/21qc7Vv ) reports. It examines each county’s oil and ethanol transportation routes and volumes, previous incidence of spills, derailment and fire, likelihood of future incidents and public safety and environmental risk factors.

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Fire Sparks Concern Over Tennessee Biofuel Refinery

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

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Photo: Commercialappeal.com

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.

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Proposed Arkansas Ethanol Facility Causing a Stir

– by Marielle Mohs, March 2, 2016, KTHV

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Photo: KTHV

A town hall meeting got pretty heated on Wednesday night in Maumelle.

Many angry citizens voiced their concerns about a proposed ethanol storage facility that would store 4.2 million gallons of ethanol and cost about $12 million. It would take about nine months to complete.

“When the high school and middle school went into the industrial park, I never thought it was a great idea to have them that close to a rail spur,” said Preston Lewis, Maumelle Alderman, who’s against the proposed project.

Green Plains, along with Delek, drew out the plans for a proposed ethanol distribution facility.

“We only need to look down the road at Mayflower at what happened there a few years ago,” said Lewis.

Wednesday’s town hall meeting posed a lot of “what if” questions with people concerned about a disaster plan, if a fire happened at the site.

“Very hazardous material with a reputation for causing a lot of damage and explosions. I think you have a challenge, especially with the school being within such
close proximity,” said Lewis.

One of the concerns the community has about this proposed plant, is that it’s so close to Maumelle High School, approximately 1,400 feet away.

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Ethanol Freight Tankers Derail in Upstate New York

– March 2, 2016, Associated Press

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Photo: Sandiegouniontribune.com

The Latest on a freight train derailment in western New York (all times local):

11:30 a.m.

A 16-car freight train derailment in western New York has interrupted Amtrak passenger service between Chicago and New York City.

An Amtrak official says the eastbound Lake Shore Limited is being stopped Wednesday at Cleveland while the westbound train is being halted at Buffalo. Buses are being used to ferry passengers in both directions to stations in the two cities.

A Norfolk Southern train derailed last night in the town of Ripley, 60 miles southwest of Buffalo. Officials say the derailment shut down four sets of tracks. One has since reopened to CSX freight traffic. There’s no word on when the others will be open.

No injuries were reported.

More than 50 homes were evacuated because two tankers containing ethanol and one with propane derailed.

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[EXCLUSIVE] Bioenergy Industry Fires and Explosions

– by Josh Schlossberg, The Biomass Monitor

Fires and/or explosions have occurred at over 75 industrial bioenergy facilities and storage areas over the last fifteen years, resulting in multiple injuries and nine deaths, based on research from The Biomass Monitor.

Fires at bioenergy facilities typically start from boiler fires, spontaneous combustion of fermenting woodchip or sawdust piles, or wood dust explosions, according to the Institution of Fire Engineers and F.E. Moran Plant Services.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) calls dust fires a “major industrial hazard.” An October 2009 OSHA report notes 280 dust fires and explosions at industrial sites—the largest percentage being wood, but also including “food products, metal products, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, rubber and plastic products, paper products, furniture, electric and sanitary services, transportation equipment, durable goods, and textile mills”—over the past 25 years, which have killed 119 people and injured 700. OSHA conducted 1,000 inspections, with 25% of inspections of wood related facilities and found 3,786 federal (74% serious) violations and 1,140 state (34% serious).

Dust explosions throughout industry—not just the bioenergy industry—are tracked on a website by GreCon.

The most recent bioenergy-related accident occurred on August 8, 2018 when recycled wood ignited in an industrial hopper at E.ON’s Blackburn Meadows biomass power facility in Tinsley, UK.

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