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  • Writer's pictureRon Kotrba

Biodiesel plant fire in Clinton, Iowa, results in no injuries

Updated: Jan 11, 2021

No injuries occurred from a fire that broke out in early January at Hero BX’s biodiesel plant in Clinton, Iowa, Chris Peterson, president of Hero BX, told Biobased Diesel Daily.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, but the preliminary assessment appears to be weather-related equipment failure, according to Peterson.

“We’re holding off on any significant comment until we have had time to study the remains and our insurance engineers have had a chance to inspect as well, but it appears that the event was a freak mechanical failure that may have been weather related,” Peterson said. “The area where the fire started was all brand-new equipment that was professionally installed, so we are not exactly sure what may have happened.”

Hero BX acquired the former Clinton County Biodiesel facility in Clinton, Iowa, from Tenaska Commodities in September 2018. Renamed Hero BX Iowa, the plant was recently retrofitted to process feedstock with higher free fatty acid content.

Peterson and Hero BX engineers are traveling to Clinton, Iowa, Jan. 8 to assess the damage. “Thankfully, nobody was hurt and our employees followed emergency protocols to the tee and prevented a bad situation from becoming much worse,” Peterson said. “The local emergency responders were also fantastic—they did a great job in keeping the incident contained.”

Despite the incident, the facility is still capable of running at reduced rates. “But we are not entirely sure that is the safest thing to do at this point,” Peterson said. “We do have material in tank and a backup at the Iowa Renewable Energy facility in Washington, Iowa.” He added that Hero BX expects no short-term interruptions with existing contracts. “We will likely have some downtime or at least reduced production as repairs are made,” Peterson said.

Hero BX began a tolling arrangement in May 2018 with Iowa Renewable Energy in Washington, Iowa, about two hours from Clinton.

Stay tuned to Biobased Diesel Daily for updates on this story.

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