Monday, August 18, 2008

Multiple Repeat Wood Pellet Plant Fires

After a three month respite from a previous combustible dust related fire, Corinth Wood Pellets experiences another fire. The last fire caused thousands of dollars worth of damage. Currently there is no OSHA record in the IMIS database that the facility had been inspected previously since the last incident. With only 12 highly dedicated and professional OSHA safety inspectors alloted for the entire state of Maine, it should not be expected that OSHA can inspect over 1,8oo manufacturing facilities on a regular reoccurring basis.

The Pellet Fuels Institute lists 24 wood pellet manufacturing facilities amongst it's membership on the east coast. Since May 2008, over 10% of east coast membership facilities have experienced fires. Additionally, last month AJ Stoves & Pellets, located in Marion, PA, not a member of PFI, experienced a dust explosion in their hopper. With these plants operating at 100% capacity, future combustible dust related fires and explosions are occurring at a rapidly alarming rate.

OSHA resources are already strained and less than 10% of the nations manufacturing plants are inspected with the unique NAICS in the wood pellet industry. Would local fire marshal inspections lessen the number of incidents while at the same time reduce the severity of combustible dust related fires and explosions? A community in New Zealand offers an excellent alternative to fire safety concerning commercial buildings, utilizing fire inspectors. Can we do the same in the United States instead of tasking OSHA to enforce building fire safety?

Recent Explosions and Fires

8/22/08-AJ Stoves & Pellets- dust explosion/hopper
8/15/08 Corinth Wood Pellets- fire/sawdust dryer
8/10/08 New England Wood Pellets- fire/pellet mill
7/15/08-AJ Stoves & Pellets- dust explosion/hopper
5/20/08 Corinth Wood Pellets- fire/exterior burner


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