Lawsuits, Questions, Accusations Embroil Colorado Biomass Plant

It was 4:20 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014, and David Graham was adjusting the water flow to the cooling towers at the biomass plant in Gypsum. He thought he saw flames reflected in the windshield of a silver Dodge Ram pickup truck. When he turned, he saw he was right. The conveyor belt that delivers […]

It was 4:20 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014, and David Graham was adjusting the water flow to the cooling towers at the biomass plant in Gypsum. He thought he saw flames reflected in the windshield of a silver Dodge Ram pickup truck. When he turned, he saw he was right.

The conveyor belt that delivers huge piles of wood chips that the plant burns to generate electricity had caught fire. As he and Ron Evans were calling 911, they scrambled as fast as they could to shut everything down.

Gypsum Fire Chief Justin Kirkland sent an “all hands on deck” message, and firefighters from all over the region rushed to the scene. They arrived to find that the fire hydrants, owned by biomass plant owner and operator Eagle Valley Clean Energy, were delivering only 15 percent of the water they were supposed to — 350 gallons per minute instead of the 2,250 gallons per minute the 12-inch pipes were designed to carry. The hydrant’s valves had been deliberately closed to a trickle, an investigation found.

It was almost midday Saturday before firefighters had the fire completely out. Crews had to run water lines from the American Gypsum wallboard manufacturing plant next door to get enough water. Between tanker trucks and the lines from the factory next door, fire crews managed to contain the blaze to that exterior conveyor belt, keeping it away from the massive piles of wood chips the plant burns.

From Summit Daily: http://www.summitdaily.com/news/19111011-113/story.html

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