Winnipeg fuel plant issues statement about explosion, says safety paramount

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WINNIPEG - The owners of a Winnipeg fuel plant that exploded into flames earlier this week say they had passed all safety inspections and complied with all regulations.

Speedway International issued its first statement Wednesday, calling Monday's $15 million fire "a terrible incident" that impacted hundreds of its neighbours who were forced to evacuate.

The company says its employees are going through "a devastating time" as it begins the process of rebuilding a family business.

Speedway International president Royce Rostecki, a former stock car driver, has not yet spoken publicly about the fire.

He made headlines a few years ago when a subsidiary of his company, Greenway Bio-diesel, became the first in the province to be licensed for production of biodiesel.

No one was hurt in the fire, though fire crews had a close call when a tanker just 30 metres away from them exploded, forcing them to retreat.

Employee Evan Basarowich has said no one was in the plant when the fire alarm sounded because workers were waiting for a shipment of powder used to purify biodiesel.

"We are thankful that no one was hurt and thank everyone for listening to emergency services and staying clear of the area as firefighters fought the blaze," said the company's statement.

"We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks for the days of heroic work put in by the city’s emergency service workers. We will be providing any assistance possible to the investigators who are working to determine the cause of the fire."

The company also said it "is committed to providing safe working conditions for our employees."

However, the company also said it wanted to clarify "misinformation that has been reported to the public."

It said it is registered and permitted to import and export fuel but does not store petroleum products in its buildings or storage tanks.

"Speedway International does store biodiesel which is produced from canola oil," said the release. "However, no rail cars containing biodiesel or methanol product were affected by the fire."

Fire officials and workers at the plant have said that a tanker truck of methanol was responsible for the biggest explosion that sent a fireball into the sky.

The cause of the fire has not been officially determined.

On its website prior to the fire, Speedway International said its Pro Comp racing methanol could be shipped throughout North America in sealed 55-gallon drums via tank trucks and by rail.

"Pro Comp racing methanol will provide more horsepower, more torque and longer engine life than any other industrial grade or off-spec methanol," the website said, adding the fuel is used for drag racing and Indy car racing.

Organizations: Pro Comp

Geographic location: Winnipeg, North America

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