Nearly 1200 residents of a rural New Mexico county were briefly evacuated after a series of explosions and a large fire erupted at Rio Valley Biofuels’ facility in Anthony, about 20 miles north of El Paso, TX, on May 27.
Crews responded to calls about the blasts shortly after 10am. After the blaze was contained and residents were escorted back to their homes as hazardous materials experts inspected the site. No injuries were reported.
The cause of the explosions and fire was under investigation, and hazardous materials specialists were working to determine if any chemicals were released during the incident. The facility was said to have large quantities of methanol, glycerin, and sodium methylate, as well as vegetable oil, hydrochloric acid, and biodiesel fuel.
Rio Valley Biofuels’ Web site says it is New Mexico's first and one of the Southwest's only commercial producers of biofuels. It began commercially producing biodiesel in July 2006, using recycled oil from local food processors. Feedstocks include a large variety of lipid oil sources including used vegetable oil, crude cottonseed, tallow, sunflower, canola, soy, palm, and a number of others.
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