Man. crush plant explosion halts production

(Resource News International) — An explosion over the weekend at the Associated Proteins canola crusher at Ste. Agathe, Man., damaged the processing equipment at the plant, which is expected to put crushing operations on hold for at least a month.

Associated Proteins CEO Peter Kozicz confirmed Monday there was an explosion in one of the plant’s cake coolers early Saturday morning, April 5, causing a fire which was extinguished. No one was hurt in the explosion and resulting fire.

The cause of the explosion is still unknown, but he noted canola meal dust in the cake cooler, combined with high temperatures, can be volatile.

“The plant right now is not operational,” said Kozicz, adding that the company is now working on developing a plan to resume operations as soon as possible in order to minimize disruptions to customers and suppliers.

Oil refining at the facility could be back on line within a week, said Kozicz. However, seed processing will take longer to return to normal.

“Very early indications are suggesting that we’re down for a minimum of four to six weeks on our seed processing side,” Kozicz said, although he added that it may be possible to bring one of the two cake coolers on line earlier, allowing production to resume at a lower rate before a new cake cooler can be brought in.

The plant has the capacity to crush 1,000 tonnes of canola per day, and is the largest expeller-pressed oilseed crusher in the world.

Expeller-pressed canola oil has a higher stability than oil processed through the more conventional solvent extraction method, according to Associated Proteins. The resulting meal is also higher in energy due to its higher oil content.

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