BRUNSWICK, Ga (AP) – Insurer is suing the operator of a coastal warehouse in Georgia where 50,000 tonnes of biofuel wood pellets went up in smoke this year, claiming “acts of gross negligence” have caused 4, $ 5 million in losses.
The Brunswick News reports that Tokio Marine American Insurance Co. filed a lawsuit last month against Logistec, a Canadian stevedoring company that leases the warehouse from the Georgia Ports Authority. Investigators believe some of the pellets decomposed and spontaneously burned, setting off a multi-day fire that devoured the warehouse and threatened neighboring Brunswick homes.
Tokio Marine was providing wood pellets, which belonged to Fram Renewable Fuels of Hazlehurst and awaiting shipment. Tokio said he should not have paid losses to Fram without the “gross negligence” of Logistec.
“Logistec has made almost every possible mistake in storing wood pellet biofuel, a clean and safe biofuel made by Fram,” the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit claims that Logistec improperly stored pellets in large cones and loaded wet pellets into the warehouse; scoop up the pellets from the top of the pile, leaving a bottom layer to degrade and overheat; and allowing flammable wood dust to accumulate, thereby contributing to spontaneous combustion. He also alleges that Logistec had faulty jets.
State investigators said Logistec responded with a private “fire department” and waited an entire day before calling the fire department. No one was injured, but firefighters cut off the gas lines to neighboring houses and remained at the scene for weeks.
The company declined to comment on the lawsuit.
The warehouse that burned had replaced two buildings destroyed by a fire in 2015 which was also attributed to spontaneous combustion.
Logistec says it remains committed to its operation of 45 workers in Brunswick. It began stocking less flammable peanut shells at the site in August after complying with more stringent fire prevention rules set by the state. Logistec said it does not currently plan to resume handling of wood pellets there.
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