July 7, 2009 in City

Fire at biodiesel plant under investigation

Company plans to move production site
Associated Press
 

BURBANK, Wash. – The owners of a biodiesel manufacturing facility in the south-central Washington town of Burbank say they don’t expect to be out of commission long after a weekend fire heavily damaged the facility.

Investigators continue to look into what started the blaze at the Gen-X Energy Group’s 18,000-square-foot warehouse early Saturday morning, when flames were seen coming out of the roof and sides of the building.

Officials say the facility at the Port of Walla Walla’s Burbank Industrial Facility is not structurally stable after the fire.

The plant will be idle, but company officials are making plans to select a new site for production at the port in the next 48 hours, said Ramon Benavides, vice president of business development for Gen-X Energy Group.

Benavides said fire officials told him the blaze started outside in a portable toilet on the northwest corner of the facility and may have been related to fireworks.

The plant was not operating at the time and the fire was not related to any operational aspect of the facility, he told the Tri-City Herald.

The facility was running at about half capacity, producing about 7,200 gallons a day. Benavides said the company had just received a three-year contract to produce over 1 billion gallons of biodiesel.

Company officials were able to isolate tanks and keep them from getting damaged in the blaze. Floor drains were able to catch and contain the oil that did spill.

The state Department of Ecology sent a spill response team to the site after learning about the fire and determined about 30,000 gallons of vegetable oil had spilled, said spokesman Dan Partridge. None of the oil made it to the Snake River, and no fines will be levied against the company.

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