Minn. Energy Plant Blast Shakes City, No Injuries

Amy Johnson had just settled in with a book Thursday afternoon when she heard a tremendous boom outside her Shakopee apartment.

"I looked out my window and saw a shock wave coming toward my building," the 26-year-old said. "It hit my window, and the whole apartment building just shook. It was like something out of a movie."

Luckily, there was a happy ending.

The explosion that rocked an energy plant nearby shook buildings and forced a few evacuations but injured no one, officials said.

The blast occurred where Koda Energy and Rahr Malting operate in a joint venture, at 800 1st Av., just south of the Minnesota River near downtown Shakopee.

All the employees at the site were safely led from the scene, company officials said. The cause of the explosion has not been determined.

Shakopee Fire Chief Jake Theisen said that a fire was contained by 3 p.m. but that fire containment and prevention efforts would continue for as long as several days.

In a statement released by Scott County, he stressed that no hazardous materials had been released.

Fire crews and other emergency personnel were called to the area shortly before 1 p.m. Crews were still training their water hoses on the source of the explosion into the evening.

Mike Marsollek, an executive with Koda Energy, said he heard two loud bangs about 12:40 p.m.

The company said in a statement Thursday night that the fire caused damage to two biomass fuel silos and their conveyor system, as well as a truck unloading facility. Koda said it was too early to assess the full extent of the damage.

Koda Energy derives its power from the burning of agricultural and plant seed byproducts, meeting its own energy needs as well as those of Rahr Malting. The materials being burned at the time were wood and oat hulls, Marsollek said.

Rahr Malting is a family-owned company that began in 1847. It produces and distributes malt and industry-related brewing supplies. It has been cited for a total of four workplace safety violations on two occasions in 2008 and 2009, according to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) records.

In the 2009 incident, a worker was injured in a fall. The company paid a total of $2,535 in fines for the violations. A 2004 inspection found no violations.

Staff writer David Peterson contributed to this report.

sfeyder@startribune.com --612-746-3282 pwalsh@startribune.com --612-673-4482

Copyright 2013 - Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

Loading