Soy Energy general manager gives statement on May 15 plant fire

By Ron Kotrba | May 16, 2012

Soy Energy LLC, a 30 MMgy biodiesel production facility in Mason City, Iowa, caught fire May 15. No one was injured, said Jeff Oestmann, Soy Energy CEO and general manager in a statement. While the exact cause of the fire is still under investigation, Oestmann said they know it originated in a tank inside a restricted area.

“Our employees initiated a phenomenal response,” he said. “They followed their training to the letter, evacuating the building safely and immediately notifying the fire department. We believe we have put into place the most highly skilled, experienced workers that make up the Soy Energy team, and I’m very proud of the professionalism with which they handled the situation.” 

Oestmann said a team of experts was at the plant the next day investigating the cause of the incident. “We are also working proactively with local officials and the fire department to determine the cause, and thank them for their quick response,” he said. “Damage was minimal, essentially limited to one tank. After the investigation is complete and the tank is repaired, we should be back up and running.”  

He noted that while biodiesel is safe to use and store, the production process does involve hazardous chemicals such as methanol, “which is why it should only be produced by trained workers in a commercial setting,” Oestmann said. “Safety is our first priority, and we are in the final stages of becoming an accredited plant under the biodiesel industry’s voluntary BQ-9000 quality assurance program. Our plant is a safe, state-of-the-art facility. We provide 40 jobs, making valuable contributions to the area economy as well as our nation’s energy security.”  


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