Biofuel plant rocked by explosion in 2013 cleared to open again

The rebuilt JNS Biofuel plant has all three permits needed to start operating following a 2013 fire and explosion, but officials don't know when it will

NEW ALBANY, Miss. (AP) — A year after an explosion ripped apart the JNS Biofuel plant, the rebuilt plant in New Albany has all the permits it needs to reopen. However, state and local officials don't know when that will happen.

JNS Biofuel's president and owner, Steve Bolin, has not given official notice yet. The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports (http://bit.ly/1wwe6G4) that he did not respond to texts or messages left at the plant or his business in Arkansas.

Union County Board of Supervisors president Danny Jordan said he speaks regularly to Bolin but hasn't gotten an indication from him.

"Our emergency management director keeps a good eye on what's going on, and MDEQ says they've met the requirements to open," Jordan said.

The plant has all three permits needed to start operating but officials don't know when it will do so, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality said.

The explosion and fire on Jan. 22, 2013, all but leveled the plant, which converted chicken fat into biodiesel. Nobody was hurt.

The estimated damage to property and contents was $3.5 million.

The state fire marshal ruled the incident an accident, though there was so much damage that investigators could not pinpoint the cause.

A five-page report in April said it probably started in an oil heater or pump.

Bolin said afterward that he would rebuild the plant even though his insurance would cover only the cleanup.

Before the fire, the plant could store 8,000 gallons of methanol, 37,000 gallons of glycerin, 46,000 gallons of feedstock oil, 8,000 gallons of sodium methylate and 2,000 gallons of fuel oil.

The equipment list for the new plant states that it can store more than 12,000 gallons of methanol, more than 60,000 gallons of glycerin; 130,000 gallons of feedstock oil; 9,000 gallons of sodium methylate and 1,850 gallons of diesel fuel.

It also has a 130,000 gallon biodiesel fuel tank and has a 17,000-gallon finished biodiesel tank.

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