Fire At Biofuel Plant North Of New Albany Still Smoldering

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(New Albany, MS) OSHA is investigating the fire at a biofuel plant in New Albany, Miss.

Fire and explosions destroyed  JNS Biofuels on Highway 15 Wednesday.

Thursday, some storage tanks were still burning and putting off heavy smoke.

Officials hope the worst is behind, but people living nearby are still on edge.

There was some good news Thursday afternoon from Union County EMA Director Curt Clayton, even as debris continued burning at the JNS Biofuels plant.

Uncertainty about what started the fire or what's inside the large storage tanks on the JNS property  is keeping emergency crews at a distance.

"We have not started any kind of cleanup, because we still got problems with explosions and fire," said Clayton.

There have been three confirmed explosions at the plant, which is north of New Albany, since early Wednesday morning.

Dale Beavers lives on County Road 115, just a few hundred yards from JNS Biofuels.

He said he'll never forget what he heard and saw Wednesday morning.

"There was a great big ol' boom. I mean it shook windows for miles around. And there was fire shooting probably three or four hundred feet in the air," said Beavers.

Two businesses across the highway from the fire had to shut down.

Four-hundred employees won't be able to work until the area is safe again.

The plant fire caused some people to voluntarily evacuate their homes.

"It was very smokey, very horrible. It was just a scary thing," said Abbie Wooldridge.

Wooldridge lives with her mother and decided to leave Wednesday when the fire got too close for comfort.

"I know it wasn't mandatory, but I felt it was best for my family to get away from all the smoke and the fumes," said Wooldridge.

New Albany schools closed Thursday over concern the heavy smoke would be harmful to students.

The Red Cross set up a shelter at Victory Life Church in New Albany, but so far no one's used it.

None of JNS's workers were injured and the plant manager said the biofuel company will re-build.

After what he's been through, Beavers doesn't like the sound of that.

"We got by this, this time without anybody getting hurt. And I hear he's talking about building back just as quick as he can," said Beavers.

Clayton said specially suited site teams are finally able to get into the burned area.

There are no plans for further evacuations, unless smoke conditions worsen.


  • dawgx

    This place has been a hazard since it was built. I told those guys 8 years ago that they didn’t have the proper equipment. The were usiing motors, controls and wiriing that was not rated for the area classification. I can tell you without a doubt that the explosion was caused methanol which is a byproduct of making biodiesel. They had the exhaust vent from the methanol tank right next to the pump/motor and motor starter I am surprised it took this long

  • Michelle Harlin

    @dawgx-I am the Office Manager at that plant and sir, you are incorrect. The methanol had nothing to do with the fire. In fact, the methanol tank was not affected or compromised in any of the explosions. We took this plant over and remodified it 3 years ago. A lot has changed since 8 years ago and if you did your homework, you would have known that before you gave false information.

    • Michelle Harlin

      @dawgx-you are also incorrect with biodiesel facts. Methanol, sir, is not a by-product of biodiesel. Do a little more research before misinforming the public :)

      • dawgx

        Mrs. Harlin,

        Here is the research… Glycerin and Methanol are typically the byproduct.

        So, you are saying and telling the public that all of the equipment, pumps, writing, valves, filter press, etc. was updated in the last three years to explosion proof ratings, and that the storage tanks were fitted with flame suppressors?

        If I worked that plant, I wouldn’t be posting on a blog…I have a feeling the.people of New Albany, and investigators will have plenty of questions as to why this happened….

  • dawgx

    I would have a few questions:

    Have all of the motors, wiring, conduit, and motor starters been changed to meet Class 1 Div I or II? What group level?

    Were all of the valves changed to firesafe designs?

    Are you.still using the homemade boiler?

    Does your natural gas lines include FM approved shut-off valves?

    How limit over pressuring the tanks?

    What type of tank blanketing were you using?

    Did you have safety interlocks of your burners?…assuming you are still heating the batches.

    Are you still using the used US FILTER PRESS? It wasn’t rated for the area…R

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