Fire at Biomass Power Facility in Thailand

- April 8, 2015, Bangkok Post

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"452","attributes":{"alt":"krabi thailand biomass power facility","class":"media-image","style":"width: 333px; height: 234px; margin: 3px 10px; float: left;","title":"Photo: cpecc.net"}}]]A biomass power plant with large piles of palm kernel shells used for fuel caught fire in Khao Phanom district of Krabi early Wednesday morning, and damage was estimated at 100 million baht. 

The fire at Saraff Energies Co started about 1.30am. The plant was temporarily closed for maintenance. 

It first emerged at a grinder and then burnt a conveyor belt and spread to hundreds of tonnes of stored palm kernel shells used as fuel at the biomass power plant on Nua Khlong-Chai Buri Road.

More than 10 fire engines and crews from four sub-districts battled the blaze, which took more than four hours to control. The fire destroyed the steel warehouse where palm kernel shells were stored over an area of about two rai. The fire extinguishing system at the plant was out of service at the time.

Two Myanmar workers were injured. One suffered burns and the other cut his leg escaping from the plant.

The power plant is part of the very small power producer (VSPP) programme and receives government support. It normally generates about 10 megawatts of electricity and sells the power to the Provincial Electricity Authority.

Police said damage was put at 100 million baht. 

USDA Splurges Millions on Biomass Power Incinerators

[More taxpayer money funding private corporations to log National Forests under the unscientific guise of "wildfire prevention." -Ed.]

-  US Department of Agriculture, July 23, 2014, Office of Communications

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"234","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","style":"width: 333px; height: 167px; margin: 3px 10px; float: left;"}}]]Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has selected 36 energy facilities in 14 states to accept biomass deliveries supported by the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), which was authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. Biomass owners who supply these facilities may qualify for BCAP delivery assistance starting July 28, 2014.

Of the total $25 million per year authorized for BCAP, up to 50 percent ($12.5 million) is available each year to assist biomass owners with the cost of delivery of agricultural or forest residues for energy generation. Some BCAP payments will target the removal of dead or diseased trees from National Forests and Bureau of Land Management public lands for renewable energy, which reduces the risk of forest fire.

Forest Thinning Will Increase Wildfire Risk

- by Charles Thomas, The Oregonian
 
[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"232","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","style":"width: 277px; height: 184px; float: left; margin: 3px 10px;","title":"Photo: AP/The Record Searchlight"}}]]As fires again rage across the West, senators from John McCain, R-Ariz., to Ron Wyden, D-Ore., echo the refrain "thin the forests" to prevent wildfires. Unfortunately, most of the advocated thinning will actually stoke the wildfires of the future rather than lessen their occurrence and impacts.
 
Thinning prescriptions proposed in Wyden's O&C legislation, designed by eminent foresters Jerry Franklin and Norm Johnson, will stimulate hotter, faster-growing wildfires that are more hazardous to fight. These prescriptions drastically thin forest canopies through timber sales designed primarily to generate timber volume, often leaving the slash and smaller shrubs and trees for non-commercial fire hazard reduction projects that are usually underfunded, unable to match the pace of canopy thinning projects and clear-cuts across the landscape.
 
Thinning forest canopies opens the stands to more sunlight, which encourages growth of fine fuels, including shrubs, small trees and grasses. Penetration of sunlight and dry summer winds effectively increases the active fire season by drying this new growth and leftover logging slash much faster than in adjacent unlogged forest stands, where greater canopy closure with tall shade columns retains moisture in soils and vegetation.
 
Active fire season begins weeks earlier in thinned forests and lasts weeks later, drastically increasing the time span during which dry forest conditions contribute to rapid fire spread. These dry, thinned forests often burn hotter and more erratically than unthinned stands, even causing retreat of firefighters when conditions become too dangerous to maintain fire lines.

Farm Bill Based on Flawed Assumptions about Forest Health and Wildfire

- by George Wuerthner
 
[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"111","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"338","style":"width: 333px; height: 300px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left;","title":"Photo: Doug Bevington","width":"450"}}]]There are widely held assumptions that logging will reduce or preclude large wildfires and beetle outbreaks. The recent Farm Bill provision that would allow categorical exclusion to log up to 3000 acres without NEPA review is based on flawed assumptions about forest health and wildfire. 

1. LARGE WILDFIRE CLIMATE DRIVEN

Large fires are driven by climatic/weather conditions that completely overwhelm fuels. Changing fuels does not prevent large fires and seldom significantly reduces the outcome of these large fires. The climatic/weather factors driving large blazes are drought, low humidity, high temperatures and most importantly high winds. High wind is the critical factor because winds will blow burning embers over, through or around any fuel reductions including clearcuts. When these conditions line up in the same place as an ignition, it is virtually impossible to stop such fires--until the weather changes.

Biofuels Plant Won’t Protect Us from Wildfire

- by Virginia Moran, May 16, 2014, Source: The Union

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"134","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","style":"width: 333px; height: 219px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: right;"}}]]Regarding the proposed “biofuels” plant (i.e. acceleration of climate change) project, here is what I find “scary”: that residents of western Nevada County are never allowed to live our lives in peace. If we are twitchy and irritable it is because we are constantly on guard regarding what the next project will be to exploit our county.

What I find scary is cronyism (i.e. revolving door) between public and quasi-public agencies here, and members of the so-called private sector (“consultants” and contractors) who tend to look out for their own interests (i.e., profit).

Fire at Brand New Biomass Incinerator in Rothschild, Wisconsin

[Read our article "Biomass Industry Plays with Fire, Gets Burned," compiling all the biomass-related fires up until May 2013...it's getting hard to keep up - Ed.]

-April 11, 2014. Source: Wasau Daily Herald

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"124","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"194","style":"width: 259px; height: 194px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left;","width":"259"}}]]ROTHSCHILD — Firefighters extinguished a blaze that ignited in a dust collector at the Domtar biomass power plant early Friday morning.

Rothschild Fire Department crews responded to the plant just before 4:30 a.m., said Chief Marc Hill. When crews got to the plant, a fire was burning inside the dust collector and smoke was coming out of the structure. No one was injured in the blaze, but it took fire crews about three hours to completely put out the fire.

A ladder truck from the SAFER fire station in Weston and its crew also responded to the fire, Hill said.

The fire apparently started after some wood became caught in a giant shredder called a hog, Hill said. The friction caused by the material and machinery created heat and sparks, which were pulled into the dust collector through a collection system. The fire started quickly in the dust collector, Hill said.

Yet Another Fire at Wood Pellet Facility

Fire Damages Ernst Biomass Pellet Plant

November 11, 2013, Source: Bioenergy Insight

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"148","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","style":"width: 250px; height: 186px; margin-left: 7px; margin-right: 7px; float: left;"}}]]Ernst Biomass' pellet plant in New Jersey, US has been damaged after a fire broke out on 9 November.

The incident is reported to have caused $50,000 (€37,330) worth of damage to equipment such as the facility's conveyor system. Nobody was injured but production at the facility was temporarily suspended.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined but it is thought to have started accidentally. It took fire fighters about four hours to extinguish the fire.

Biomass Industry Fans Flames of Wildfire Hysteria

Biomass Industry Fans Flames of Wildfire Hysteria 

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"115","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"270","style":"width: 388px; height: 260px; margin-left: 7px; margin-right: 7px; float: left;","width":"480"}}]]California’s Rim fire, expected to be fully “contained” by October after igniting in Yosemite National Park on August 17, will ultimately benefit the forests it has passed through. While media accounts sensationalize such large wildfires as “catastrophic” and “disastrous,” science demonstrates that, to the contrary, fire is a vital component of western forest ecosystems.

Journalists mischaracterize the ecological function of wildfire as “devastation” or refer to forests that have experienced fire as a “barren wasteland,” exploiting emotions to sell newspapers. Yet media is only an accomplice to one of the masterminds ultimately responsible for fanning the flames of wildfire hysteria: the biomass energy industry.

Wildland-Urban Fire—A Different Approach

Wildland-Urban Fire--A Different Approach

- by Jack D. Cohen, Rocky Mountain Research Station, U.S. Forest Service

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"114","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"480","style":"width: 346px; height: 480px; float: left; margin-left: 7px; margin-right: 7px;","width":"346"}}]]Wildland-urban fire occurs when a fire burning in wildland vegetation fuels gets close enough with its flames and/or firebrands (lofted burning embers) to potentially create ignitions of the residential fuels (Butler 1974). Residential fire destruction is the principal problem during wildland-urban fires, but homes that do not ignite do not burn. Recognizing the potential for wildland-urban home ignitions and preventing home ignitions is the principal challenge.

Understanding how homes ignite during wildland-urban fires provides the basis for appropriately assessing the potential for home ignition and thereby effectively mitigating wildland-urban fire ignitions. Fires do not spread by flowing over the landscape and high intensity fires do not engulf objects, as do avalanches and tsunamis. All fires spread by meeting the requirements for combustion—that is, a sufficiency of fuel, heat, and oxygen. In the context of severe wildland-urban fires, oxygen is not a limiting factor so this type of fire spreads according to a sufficiency of fuel and heat. Homes are the fuel and the heat comes from the flames and/or firebrands of the surrounding fires. Recent research indicates that the potential for home ignitions during wildfires including those of high intensity principally depends on a home’s fuel characteristics and the heat sources within 100-200 feet adjacent to a home (Cohen 1995; Cohen 2000; Cohen and Butler 1998). This relatively limited area that determines home ignition potential can be called the home ignition zone.

Wind Drives All Large Blazes

Wind Drives All Large Blazes 

- by George Wuerthner

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"112","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"247","style":"width: 400px; height: 290px; float: left; margin-left: 7px; margin-right: 7px;","width":"400"}}]]As large fires have spread across the West in recent decades, we hear increasing demands to reduce fuels—typically through logging. But logging won’t reduce the large fires we are experiencing because fuels do not drive large fires.

You can have tons of fuel per acre as occurs in Oregon’s Coast Range or the Olympic Mountains of Washington, and have virtually no fires because they are too wet to burn. On the other hand, we have seen some huge acreage charred on overgrazed grasslands that have little more than stubble to burn if there is a major drought and wind.

What makes the difference is not the available fuel, but the climatic/weather conditions. Logging forests does not change the climate/weather.