MASON CITY — The general manager of Soy Energy vowed Wednesday to work closely with investigators to find the cause of an explosion there on Tuesday night.
Jeff Oestmann, CEO and general manager of Soy Energy, 4172 19th St. S.W., said in a statement the company continues to investigate what happened.
“We ... know it originated in a tank inside a restricted area,” Oestmann said in the statement.
Mason City Fire Chief Bob Platts said Wednesday no one was injured though seven or eight people were in the vicinity when the explosion occurred at about 6 p.m.
Oestmann said, “We have called together a team of experts who are at the plant today to investigate what may have caused the incident.
“We are also working proactively with local officials and the fire department to determine the cause, and thank them for their quick response.
“Damage was minimal, essentially limited to one tank,” he said. “After the investigation is complete and the tank repaired, we should be back up and running.”
Oestmann added he was thankful no employees were injured.
“Our employees initiated a phenomenal response,” he said. “They followed their training to the letter, evacuating the building safely and immediately notifying the fire department.
“We believe we have put into place the most highly skilled, experienced workers that make up the Soy Energy team, and I’m very proud of the professionalism with which they handled the situation.”
Soy Energy, which employs 40 people, produces soybean oil-based biodiesel and corn stillage oil-based biodiesel.
“Biodiesel is the safest fuel to use, handle and store,” Oestmann said. “However, the production process does involve hazardous chemicals, like methanol, which is why it should only be produced by trained workers in a commercial setting.
“Safety is our first priority, and we are in the final stages of becoming an accredited plant under the biodiesel industry’s voluntary BQ-9000 quality assurance program. We want to reassure the community that our plant is a safe, state-of-the-art facility.”
— By Laura Bird and John Skipper