Fire rips through Missouri biodiesel plant



A biodiesel plant in central Missouri went up in flames this week, shooting flames “taller than the town’s grain elevator”.

Biodiesel is a renewable fuel that can be manufactured from vegetable oils, animal fats, or recycled greases. Soybeans are often used to supply an oil product (though this can also include other oil grains like sunflowers, canola, or peanuts), which can then be refined into a fuel product. Biodiesel is generally considered environmentally-friendly, as it reduces petroleum-based air pollutants.

While biodiesel is generally considered a safe and stable fuel with a relatively high flashpoint (>130 °C), once a fire is started, it may be difficult to extinguish. Fires involving biodiesel must be treated like other flammable liquids fires. The use of water spray should generally be avoided, instead relying on dry chemicals or foam. Also, if an alcohol-based component is present, then an appropriate alcohol-resistant foam will be needed. Bear in mind that very large volumes of foam may be needed for a production facility involved in fire.

If you have one of these facilities in your area, be sure you have taken the proper steps to plan and train. Also, be sure that proper consideration has been given to the preparation of fire response agencies with adequate equipment and foam supplies.

COOPER COUNTY, MO (KCTV) – A small Missouri town was the scene of a big fire Saturday.

The flames from the biodiesel plant in Bunceton, MO, located in Cooper County, were so high and so hot the county’s fire chief said he was worried for the safety of residents.

“It was pretty impressive at times. We were trying to stay back to make sure everyone was okay,” Paul Reuter said.

Reuter ordered the evacuation of the entire town as flames grew taller than the town’s grain elevator.

Many of those residents had worked for Missouri Better Bean, which operates the plant, including Buncetown city councilman John Breshears.

“It was something else, just hearing the tanks blowing up and everything,’ Breshears said.

“This plant behind me is sort of what brought me here,” resident Brad Barnett told us.

The fire was finally extinguished without any serious injuries, though several firefighters were treated for heat exhaustion. That’s the good news. The bad? How will the town recover and how will crews clear off the wreckage and dispose of the contaminated runoff from the blaze?

“They have a containment system down there for this runoff. So, they’re collecting all of those oil products and taking it to a location for Department of Natural Resources to take care of,” Reuter said.

The plant is one of the last prospering businesses in Bunceton. Breshears says he hopes the owners will rebuild.

“It’s bad to see it happen but I’m glad no one got hurt,” Breshears said.

Luckily, on a Saturday, the plant had very little fuel.

By late Saturday afternoon, residents were allowed to return to their homes.

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