SuperTalk Mississippi

Biodiesel Plant Explosion Ruled an Accident

NEW ALBANY, Miss.- You may remember the big fire and explosion at JNS Biofuels plant back in January. It has been ruled an accident by the state fire marshal, even though a specific reason for why the fire started was not found.

About 50 homes had to be evacuated and highway 15 was shut down. The report said that something probably went wrong with the thermal oil heater or pump that they use in the distillation process to produce biodiesel. Investigators could not determine exactly what caused it due to the large amount of damage to the area from the explosion.

JNS Biofuels owner Steve Bolin told the Daily Journal, after the incident that he intended to rebuild the plant even though his insurance would cover only the cleanup.

According to the fire marshal’s report, JNS employee Jimmy Clowers walked out to take a sample from one of the chicken fat container tanks. Clowers heard a hissing sound around 5:45 a.m. and saw an orange glow from one of the chicken fat tanks.

While he didn’t see a fire, he told investigators he knew the glow was a fire. He then ran to a trailer where another JNS employee, James Rhodes, was sleeping and woke him up. As they ran, the plant exploded.

The men were not injured and no other injuries were reported. The fire spread to the other tanks, and two explosions later followed the initial blast.

The total damage done was about $3.5 million.

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