Clean-Up Underway After Biodiesel Plant Explosion

John Davis

imperium-logoSome workers are back on the job after a large explosion at a Seattle, Washington-area biodiesel plant.

The Grays Harbor (WA) Daily World reports
that Imperium Renewable’s employees were back at the company’s bioiesel plant after an explosion that sent at least one piece of a tank through a chain link fence 100 feet away:

The blast hit the plant, which is in Hoquiam near the city’s border with Aberdeen, at about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, rattling windows in the area and sending out a boom that could be heard for miles.

No one was injured in the blast, said Hoquiam Assistant Fire Chief Paul Dean. There were six employees at the plant when the explosion occurred.

The explosion started when a 10,000 gallon tank being used to mix glycerin and sulfuric acid apparently became overpressurized, according to John Williams, Imperium spokesman, in a press release. The tank was completely destroyed.

“We don’t know why it was overpressurized,” Williams said today.

He said glycerin is not an explosive substance, and in the mixing tank it is neutralized further by the addition of acid. He added that there was no fire at any point. Black streaks on nearby tanks looked like charring in news footage and photos, but Williams said that was the glycerin, which he described as similar in color and texture to molasses.

Officials say the explosion ruptured one tank containing sulphuric acid, but the acid was contained. The state Department of Ecology later said that the air quality in nearby neighborhoods was safe.