July 25, 2017
At 6 am on Tuesday, July 25, 2017, the Port Arthur Fire Department released the Port Arthur Facility back to German Pellets. Additionally, the removal and disposal of all debris from the collapse of Silo No. 2 has now been completed.
July 14, 2017
GPTX entered into an Agreed Order for Issuance of a Temporary Injunction with the City of Port Arthur through the Jefferson County Court.
June 30, 2017
The City of Port Arthur filed a petition in The District Court of Jefferson County Court against GPTX seeking a request for Temporary Restraining Order, Temporary and Permanent Injunction and Request for Disclosure.
June 21, 2017
In anticipation of severe weather conditions in the area associated with Tropical Storm Cindy, the ambient air monitors have been taken down and secured to prevent any damage to the equipment or surrounding property that might result from high winds and rain associated with the storm. As soon as the storm has passed and circumstances permit, the air monitors will be placed back into service so that the community will continue to be informed about ambient air quality in the area.
We encourage all residents to take appropriate precautions to protect their own health and safety during this storm. We hope that the effects are minimal and everyone comes through the storm safely and unharmed.
June 19, 2017
On Friday, June 16, 2017 we began experiencing increased heat readings in silo #3, adjacent to the collapsed silo #2. The Unified Command team began immediate measures to contain this development. The situation is being closely monitored and all necessary contingencies and preparations are being evaluated so that the Port Arthur Fire Department (PAFD) and Cotton are prepared to implement immediate response measures should the situation worsen.
Since the initial smoldering in and subsequent structural failure of silo #2, our goal has been to suppress the smoldering and remove the pellets as expeditiously as possible. We continue to work closely with the PAFD towards that end with a continued focus on safely and efficiently resolving the incident while minimizing the impact to the community.
With those concerns in mind, structural integrity and safety concerns at the site must be addressed before we can accelerate the pellet removal process. This means the time required to extinguish and remove the smoldering pellets will be measured in weeks, not days. We have been working closely with the PAFD on measures to minimize the smoke and odor coming from the facility in the interim, and we continue to explore all of our options to ensure that we are utilizing every resource at our disposal. To that end, we are bringing in one of the largest cranes in the U.S. to assist with the demolition and removal of support structures in and around the collapsed silo impacted by the structural failure. While limited pellet removal is taking place in the interim, the demolition must be completed before the majority of the remaining pellets can be removed. The crane is arriving in pieces and will be assembled on site. After the demolition has been completed, we expect to be able to accelerate the remaining pellet removal activities. The current situation in silo #3 has not altered the timeline for removal of the collapsed silo and pellets.
June 4, 2017
On Sunday, June 4, at approximately 4 am, Silo No. 2, which was the source of the smoldering pellets, experienced a structural failure. All personnel were quickly accounted for, and there were no injuries. The Port Arthur Fire Department, which has had a command center and resources on-site 24 hours a day, 7 days a week since inception, reacted immediately. Limited flames were experienced but quickly extinguished. Only limited amounts of smoke and smoldering exist at this time. Ambient air monitoring continues and presently indicates that levels remain in the “moderate” to “good” range according to the EPA Air Quality Index. The real-time data can be viewed below under the “Air Monitoring Data” section of this website.
At this time, we are working closely with our emergency response contractor, Cotton, the PAFD, engineers, and other parties to assess all aspects and implications of this development. Although this incident was not planned, contingencies such as this had been anticipated and discussed among all parties involved prior to this event. German Pellets is grateful that there were no injuries and remains committed to the safety of our workers and the community. We are still gathering information regarding the incident and will continue to provide updates as the situation evolves. We want to again thank the local community, city officials, and the fire department for their continued understanding and support as we work to address this situation.
May 31, 2017
After initially commencing pellet extraction through exterior doors installed in the pellet silo, we have adjusted our approach to extract pellets using an auger and specially installed pipes. The auger allow us to extract pellets directly from the center of the silo. This modified approach has resulted in a more efficient and effective method of extraction. Based on consultation with the fire department and to protect the safety of workers and the community, we are immediately soaking the pellets with water once extracted from the silo. Although necessary, the added water slows the process and makes estimation of the amount of material removed difficult at this time. Following extraction, the pellets will be allowed to dry for a period of time after which they can be safely disposed of.
We continue to refine our extraction process to enable us to resolve this incident as safely and expeditiously as possible. We appreciate the continued support of local officials throughout this process.
May 16, 2017
This update is being posted to advise the community of an error that occurred with the “GP Downwind” ambient air monitor that resulted in inaccurate data being displayed on this website for portions of Monday and Tuesday, May 15-16.
Shortly after 10 pm on the evening of Friday, May 12, the GP Downwind monitor experienced a problem that prevented it from monitoring particulate matter. All other monitors were functioning properly during this time and PM concentrations reported by those monitors were within limits considered “Good” or “Moderate” according to EPA’s Air Quality Index (AQI). A technician was dispatched to repair the monitor, and repairs were believed to have been completed at approximately 12:30 pm on Monday, May 15.
On Tuesday, May 16, we became aware that the GP Downwind monitor was reporting elevated readings of particulate matter which made it appear that air quality had reached levels classified as “Unhealthy” under the AQI. GPTX’s air monitoring consultants reviewed the data and quickly determined that a calibration error had occurred during the May 15 repair which resulted in the data from the GP Downwind monitor being inflated by approximately 140 µg/m3. Thus, while the other monitors in the neighborhood were reporting PM 2.5 and PM 10 concentrations in the “Good” to “Moderate” range, the GP Downwind was erroneously reporting concentrations in the “Unhealthy” range.
Our air monitoring consultants have assured us that the elevated readings at the GP Downwind monitor are strictly the result of an equipment malfunction and not elevated PM concentrations at that monitor, and is performing formal data validation to confirm that conclusion. A technician was dispatched promptly upon learning of this malfunction to replace the faulty monitor. The replacement was completed shortly before 7 pm on Tuesday, May 16. It will take 24 hours before the 24-hour average concentrations reflected in the tables next to the graphs normalize and reflect an accurate measurement.
GPTX deeply regrets this error and any concern or inconvenience it may have caused to the community. Unfortunately, errors such as these are unavoidable when dealing with real-time, continuous data. The alternative would be to delay the release of data for a day or more until all data could be validated. GPTX believes that the importance of making this data available to the community immediately and transparently, so that our neighbors have the necessary information and opportunity to take steps to protect their health if and when warranted, outweighs the unnecessary concern and confusion that may result from occasional equipment malfunctions such as this.
Thank you for your understanding. If you have any further questions of concerns about this situation, please contact the Hotline.
May 12, 2017 - Update 2
Winds on Sunday are expected to shift direction which could cause smoke to be more prevalent in the surrounding community. This is due to wind direction and not from any changes or increased smoldering activity at the silo. You can use the air monitoring information provided on this site to monitor air quality in your area and take any actions you feel are appropriate to minimize exposure. We are continuing to work tirelessly to bring this situation to a close and apologize for any inconvenience.
May 12, 2017 - Update 1
We have updated this website to include the results of the ambient air monitoring that GPTX has been conducting near the silo and throughout the surrounding neighborhood. We currently have four air monitors installed to the north, east, west and south of the silo. By clicking on the link below for “Air Monitoring Data” you can see a map of the location of the four monitors followed by a graph of the monitoring results over the previous 24 hours. Below the graphs is a table containing EPA’s Air Quality Index (AQI). According to EPA, the AQI “tells you how clean or polluted your outdoor air is, along with associated health effects that may be of concern. The AQI translates air quality data into numbers and colors that help people understand when to take action to protect their health.”
May 10, 2017
GPTX would like to extend our thanks to the Mayor, Mayor Pro Tem, City Council Members and City Manager for the opportunity to speak at the City Council Meeting on May 9th. As stated at the meeting, GPTX remains committed to resolving this situation as quickly as possible while keeping safety at the forefront of all of our activities. We appreciate the continued support of the community and local officials as we work to resolve this important matter.
May 5, 2017
After installation of the specially fabricated doors in the pellet silo was completed, pellet extraction began today at approximately 1:30 pm CT. The pellets are currently being removed and will be hauled to a landfill for safe and efficient disposal. As with all activities to date, safety of employees, contractors and the community remains our highest priority. We will continue to provide updates on the extraction process as the work progresses.
May 4, 2017
Tonight we met with members of our local community to update them on the ongoing situation at the Port Arthur facility, and to get their feedback. We sincerely thank the participants for sharing their views and concerns and we look forward to continuing our dialogue with both the community and our local representatives. We continue to remain focused on safely and efficiently resolving this situation while minimizing the impact on the community.
April 27, 2017
German Pellets Texas, LLC and Texas Pellets Inc. (collectively “GPTX”) have taken several significant steps toward resolving the incident at GPTX’s storage facility and shipping terminal located at 498-A West Lakeshore Drive in Port Arthur, Texas. On Friday, April 21, 2017 GPTX retained Cotton Commercial USA, Inc. (“Cotton”), a global disaster recovery specialist, to take a lead role in the incident response, including all fire, safety, pellet extraction, and restoration activities. By the end of that day, Cotton had deployed considerable resources (both personnel and equipment) to the site and, along with GPTX personnel, have been working tirelessly to remediate the smoldering wood pellets contained in the affected silo.
Since GPTX detected the smoldering, the Company has worked closely with local fire officials to extinguish the burn as safely and expeditiously as possible and ensure the safety and well-being of the community, employees and first responders. Specifically, GPTX has taken concrete steps to address the situation, including procuring equipment to measure combustible gas levels in the silo, injecting inert gases into the silo to displace combustible gases and reduce the risk of fire and emissions (a process called “inerting”), establishing fixed water lines to cool the roof of the silo, and sealing the silo as completely as possible to minimize the introduction of oxygen that might fuel the continued burn.
These measures have proven very successful to date, and have directly led to oxygen levels inside the silo dropping to a safe enough level for GPTX to begin extracting pellets from the silo. GPTX is currently in the process of installing specially fabricated access doors in the base of the silo that will allow for careful and safe removal of the pellets, and installing necessary conveyors, roads and other infrastructure to move the extracted pellets to a location on-site where they can be safely inspected, extinguished if necessary and/or stored. We expect that minor flare ups may occur during the extraction process; however, equipment and personnel are in place to contain and manage such flare-ups quickly and safely.
As these measures have been implemented over the past several days, the amount of smoke and odor being emitted from the silo has diminished significantly. Residents in the surrounding areas should begin to notice the reduction in smoke and odor, if they have not already. Nonetheless, GPTX is devoting significantly more resources to monitoring ambient air emissions in the surrounding area, in consultation with the TCEQ. New continuous emissions monitors are currently being deployed today that will allow measurement of particulate emissions in close to real time. Within the next week, we expect to have additional continuous emissions monitors deployed in more locations. These monitors will remain in operation until the incident is completely resolved.
It is important to note that structural engineers have inspected the silo itself over the past several days and concluded that the silo remains structurally sound. In addition, the neighboring silos have not been impacted by this incident and temperatures within those silos have remained within the normal range. GPTX is continuing to monitor the temperature in these other silos to detect any potential smoldering and allow for the implementation of a quick and effective response should any be detected.
GPTX would like to remind the community that the wood pellets are made from biomass, mainly from wood residues such as logs, bark, wood chips and sawdust, and are produced by a process of milling, drying and compacting those residues. They are specifically intended to be burned as a source of renewable energy, and are commonly used in residential applications such as pellet stoves and backyard barbeques. The wood pellets themselves are not harmful to the environment, humans or pets.
GPTX would like to reiterate its appreciation for the understanding of the community and Port Arthur residents as we work to resolve the situation. GPTX will continue to provide updates as information becomes available.
The dedicated help line to respond to inquiries regarding this incident remains in operation and can be reached at (409) 200-3313. For any inquiries made outside of normal business hours, please leave a detailed message. All messages will be returned within 24 hours.