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No Injuries Reported

Making energy products from biomass has inherent risks, and it is our obligation to the public to mitigate those risks as much as is humanly possible, especially as the industry continues to grow.
By Tim Portz | June 05, 2014

The bulk of this issue of Biomass Magazine was researched, written and produced in April, with safety top of mind. As chance would have it, while researching safety and hazard abatement across the broader biomass segment, we encountered at least two fire incidents at operating pellet mills and reported on them amongst our daily online news coverage.

Fires, explosions and other plant mishaps quickly draw the attention of our team, mainly because at least one of us has been on the facility’s premises, know persons working at the plant, or both. For that reason, our favorite three words to include in those stories are “no injuries reported.” These incidents don’t simply impact faceless personnel, but rather, industry colleagues, advisors, editorial board members and, increasingly, friends. For the operators reading this month’s issue, you know the feeling well. Safely returning employees to their loved ones at the end of the work day is management’s top priority.

Making energy products from biomass has inherent risks, and it is our obligation to the public to mitigate those risks as much as is humanly possible, especially as the industry continues to grow. When incidents occur, the public rightly inquires about the overall safety of an industry. The public good delivered by the production and use of biomass-derived energy products must not be allowed to be overshadowed by incidents of fire and explosion.

In this month’s issue we feature a subset of biomass professionals who are working feverishly to institutionalize best practices for a rapidly growing industry. Chris Wiberg, lab manager at Biomass Energy Laboratory and frequent Biomass Magazine contributor spoke with Anna Simet for her page-21 “Standardizing Safety” feature, in which he paints a picture of the industry in a discovery phase, saying, “It’s interesting that there is so much left to be understood and discovered.” This shouldn’t surprise anyone in the space, as the industry is working through never-seen-before production volumes, storage volumes and volumes in transit.

Finally, the time is now to inquire about a facility’s safety protocols and how they match up to the best available technologies. Bob Korn’s quote in Chris Hanson’s “Hampering Hazards,” feature on page 13 is telling. As the director of sales and marketing for Fike, Korn notes, “It’s unfortunate, but a lot of times the phone rings after the explosion.”

I urge you to read this month’s issue and ask yourself and your team if you are in the best possible position to announce after an incident at your plant: “No injuries reported.”

 

Tim Portz
Vice President of Content & Executive Editor
tportz@bbiinternational.com

 

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