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Winnipeg biodiesel plant explodes, cause unknown

Speedway International says safety inspections passed, regulations complied with.


October 4, 2012
by CANADIAN PRESS

WINNIPEG — The owners of a Winnipeg biodiesel fuel plant that exploded into flames earlier Oct. 1 say they had passed all safety inspections and complied with all regulations.

Speedway International issued its first statement Oct. 3, calling the $15 million fire “a terrible incident” that impacted hundreds of its neighbours who were forced to evacuate.

The company says its employees are going through “a devastating time” as it begins the process of rebuilding a family business.

Speedway International president Royce Rostecki, a former stock car driver, has not yet spoken publicly about the fire.

He made headlines a few years ago when a subsidiary of his company, Greenway Bio-diesel, became the first in the province to be licensed for production of biodiesel.

No one was hurt in the fire, though fire crews had a close call when a tanker just 30 metres away from them exploded, forcing them to retreat.

Employee Evan Basarowich has said no one was in the plant when the fire alarm sounded because workers were waiting for a shipment of powder used to purify biodiesel.

The company also said it “is committed to providing safe working conditions for our employees”; however, it wanted to clarify “misinformation that has been reported to the public.”

It said it’s registered and permitted to import and export fuel but does not store petroleum products in its buildings or storage tanks.

“Speedway International does store biodiesel which is produced from canola oil,” said the release. “However, no rail cars containing biodiesel or methanol product were affected by the fire.”

Fire officials and workers at the plant have said that a tanker truck of methanol was responsible for the biggest explosion that sent a fireball into the sky.

The cause of the fire has not been officially determined.

© 2012 The Canadian Press