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Ala. plant may reopen after cease and desist

Posted on by SST

A Jackson County biodiesel plant was closed after the facility sustained two fires in May. The accidents prompted the Alabama state fire marshal to issue a cease-and-desist order on Aug. 20.

After appealing to the court, owners of the Bridgeport, Ala. biodiesel company struck a deal with the state fire marshal to reopen the facility once it becomes code compliant.

Tank Farm burns in May
On May 24, firefighters responded to a 4:15 p.m. call about flames coming from the plant's outdoor tanks. Fire suppression was handled with foam. The fire was quickly extinguished.

Mike Ashburn, Jackson Co. EMA director, told Huntsville's ABC affiliate the damage could have been much worse.

"When you have a tank farm of this size you don't know how much product is on the facility," Ashburn told the source.

But quantity was only part of the issue. Huntsville's WAFF reported that hazardous chemicals were found on the site, unknown to local first responders. This prompted evacuations of the area, and a cease-and-desist order issued by the state fire marshal at the end of the summer.

Shortly following the order, the company asked a judge for a stay. Plant owners told the judge they would surfer "serious and irreparable harm" if kept closed. Residents, however, felt they may be the ones harmed from a reopening. Among those on the side of the residents was Bridgeport's safety coordinator.

But the plant owners concerns were soon met. In late September, state marshals said they will permit reopening once the plant is brought back up to standards. The state marshal is still working out what changes must be made to bring the plant up to code.

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