UPDATED: Koda Energy begins remediation after plant explosion

By Anna Simet | April 30, 2013

On April 25, a 23.4-MW biomass cogeneration plant in Shakopee, Minn., endured an explosion and a resulting fire.

Luckily, none of the seven workers who were on site at Koda Energy LLC were injured.

The explosion occurred on April 25 in two silos containing wood chips and oat hulls. Initially, the city asked that all residents within a one-mile radius of the plant remain indoors, but hours later withdrew the request, assuring the public that the material on fire was non-toxic and not releasing anything hazardous into the air.

Firefighters worked through the night to contain and put out the fire, according to the Scott County Sheriff’s Twitter page.

The fire damaged the fuel silos, a conveyor system and a truck unloading area, and work is ongoing to extinguish remaining smoldering material. “We are currently in phase one of remediation, removing product from the unaffected silos to reduce combustibles in the area,” said Stacy Cook, vice president and general manager of Koda Energy. “The two silos that experienced damage still have combusting product inside. We have been cooling the exterior with fire hoses to keep them stable until the product has been removed.”

 To assist Koda in the remediation process, it has hired a specialty contractor that is an expert in hot bin product removal, Cook said, adding that the company has a pretty good idea of what caused the explosion, but is awaiting the formal conclusion from the fire investigator before providing comment.

On how long the plant may be off line, it’s not yet known. “We cannot begin our full damage assessment until we remove any potential hazards and have all hot spots extinguished,” Cook said. “Once the damage assessment is completed, we will begin to estimate our return to service date. Our plan is to remove all the hot product from the plant and close out phase one this week.”

 The damage assessment and site cleanup will begin late next week, according to Cook.

Since 2009, the 23.4 MW biomass heat and power plant has been producing power for the grid, and heat for neighbor Rahr Malting, from which it sources 95 percent of its fuel from, or about 500 tons per day. The facility also provides heat to the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community.