Explosions, Fire Destroy Mississippi Biodiesel Plant

Explosions and an intense fire at a biodiesel complex in northern Mississippi reduced it to smoldering rubble on Wednesday, but the two workers at the plant managed to escape unharmed, reports Reuters.

The first explosion rocked the JNS Biodiesel LCC plant, some three to four miles (five to six km) north of New Albany around 5:30 a.m. CST (1630 ET), authorities said.

The heat from the subsequent fire was so high that firefighters could not get close enough to battle it, and state and federal environmental officials decided to let the fire burn itself out, Plant Manager Carl Harlin said.

Another blast occurred in the afternoon when a storage tank blew, Harlin said.

“Right now everything is a pile of rubble, and it’s just burning. When we first thought the fire was dying down, we still had our office. … After the second (explosion) everything burned,” Harlin told Reuters by telephone from the scene.

The two workers at the plant managed to flee the facility unscathed, according to a statement from the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency. Harlin said all workers at the facility were accounted for.

The plant uses poultry fat as feedstock to produce about 8 million gallons of biofuels a year, making it the smallest of three such plants in the state. The previous owners were North Mississippi Biodiesel Inc.

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