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Pellets still smouldering at Pacific Bioenergy

Dealing with a trove of smouldering pellets at the Pacific Bioenergy plant is going to take longer than first expected.
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Pellets inside a blackened silo at Pacific BioEnergy continued to smoulder Monday morning, four days after the trouble was first detected.

Dealing with a trove of smouldering pellets at the Pacific Bioenergy plant is going to take longer than first expected.

After originally hoping to have the pellets removed from a silo at the Willowcale Road facility by the end of the weekend, the "expectation is that it could and may likely take all this week," company spokesman Kevin Brown said.

A low-grade fire was first detected in the silo on Thursday shortly after midnight.

Workers have since been slowly removing the pellets from the silo while also injecting inert gas into the structure to prevent a full-blown blaze from erupting. The process has taken longer than expected, Brown said, in part because the pellets must also be sprayed down with water to ensure none of them are still smouldering.

"And of course, any time you're dealing with wood products in any wood products manufacturing plant, you're always concerned about wood dust," Brown said. "And so, you want to move very slowly, very methodically."

Brown said the plant still has enough pellets stored in a second silo to meet existing orders.

The plant, meanwhile, is down to a skeleton crew working solely on taking out the pellets.

"All non-essential staff has been asked to stay home, just because the plant is not running and won't begin again until the smoulder has been extinguished and also there has been sufficient time to investigate what caused the situation in the first place," Brown said.

Each of the silos can hold up to 3,000 tonnes of processed wood pellets.

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