Explosion at Princeton reclamation plant

Envirogreen soil processing plant rocked by blast

The cause of an explosion at a soil reclamation operation near Princeton may not be known for a while.

Vijay Lanji, president of Envirogreen Technologies, said the company is in the process of investigating the explosion that occurred at their Similkameen operation on Nov. 28.

“There were no injuries. And that’s the most important thing,” said Lanji.

“Now we’re just trying to figure out what happened, whether it was a control issue or what. We’ve just had WorkSafe take a look at the site, release it back to us so we can start our investigation.”

The Envirogreen plant, located about 18 kilometres south of Princeton, on Highway 3, uses a thermal desorption process to purify hydrocarbon-contaminated soil.

Lanji said the soil it processes comes from many sites, such as old gas station brown sites and old mine sites such as the one his plant is located in.

Unlike incineration, which produces ash, the desorption process heats waste at a lower temperature, causing the hydrocarbon contaminants to off-gas. That gas is captured and used as fuel for the plant.

The resulting soil is sterilized and used for mine reclamation, according to Lanji.

READ MORE: B.C. should demand mining companies pay cleanup costs up front: Indigenous study

Investigators are looking into where the explosion began.

“We’re trying to determine that, whether it was in some ductwork or a burner. It hasn’t been established yet,” said Lanji. “We were just on the phone with our supplier to see what might have failed.”

The plant employs about 30 people and Lanji said the company wants to make sure everything is sound before it returns to full operation.

“We want our supplier to be involved in the investigation to make sure all of our safety mechanisms etc are working before we start putting our plan together for starting up operation.”

Envirogreen has operated in the Princeton location since 1995. According to the company’s website, it operates with permits granted by the British Columbia Ministry of Environment and the facility has been audited by prominent regulatory agencies.

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