February 12, 2019 4:56 pm
Updated: February 14, 2019 12:13 am

Alberta energy plant suspends operations after explosion injures 3

WATCH ABOVE: Cell phone footage of an explosion at the Pinnacle Renenwable Energy plant near Entwistle, Alta. on Monday, Feb. 11, 2019.

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The company that operates a renewable energy plant in Entwistle, Alta., said one person remains in hospital following an explosion at the facility on Monday that injured three people.

Pinnacle Renewable Energy also said its operations have been temporarily suspended. Alberta Labour confirms Occupational Health and Safety is investigating.

Parkland County Fire said there was an explosion and fire at the plant Monday afternoon and 40 crew members were called to the scene at around 2:30 p.m.

“We had fire on the industrial area and several injured people,” Parkland County Fire Chief Brian Cornforth said. “We treated the folks that were injured as well as began our fire-fighting operations.”

READ MORE: 3 injured in industrial explosion at energy plant west of Edmonton

Watch below: Operations at a wood pellet plant near Entwistle, Alta., have been suspended following a fire and explosion there on Monday. Sarah Kraus has the latest.

A spokesperson for STARS said a man, about 28 years old, was taken to the Royal Alexandra Hospital in critical condition.

Pinnacle said Tuesday the man remained in hospital in stable condition.

Alberta Health Services said EMS transported two patients to hospital in Edmonton in serious condition.

“We did transport one patient via STARS to the hospital as well as two patients went by ground ambulance.”

A news release on Pinnacle’s website said “several employees sustained minor injuries as a result of the accident and were treated on site.”

A counsellor has been brought in to help employees process what happened, the company told Global News.

Flames and smoking can be seen at an energy plant near Entwistle, Alta. Monday, Feb. 11, 2019.

Jesse Balsille, Courtesy

 

WATCH BELOW: Three people were taken to hospital after an industrial explosion and fire at a renewable energy plant near Entwistle, Alta., on Monday. Sarah Kraus reports from the scene west of Edmonton.


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Pinnacle said senior management were on their way to the plant as Occupational Health Services (OHS) conducted an investigation into the cause of the explosion, which has still not been determined.

The company said operations at the plant had been temporarily suspended until OHS gave Pinnacle permission to restart and its focus was “to look after its employees.” It said some employees were very upset in the wake of the incident.

Pinnacle said it plans to bring in a third-party expert to conduct a safety audit.

Watch below: An explosion at a wood pellet plant near Entwistle injured three people on Monday. As Albert Delitala reports, it’s not the first time a plant run by Pinnacle Energy Solutions has experienced a fire.

Pinnacle is an industrial wood pellet manufacturer and distributor. It has eight plants across Western Canada.

READ MORE: Three workers injured in fire at pellet plant in Burns Lake

The incident at the facility near Entwistle — which opened last fall — is not the first time the company has dealt with fires at its plants. In 2014, three people were injured during plant fire in Burns Lake, B.C., and there was an explosion at the company’s plant in Armstrong, B.C. in 2011, where all employees escaped without injury.

On Jan. 2, 2019, a fire occurred at the facility near Entwistle. According to Alberta Labour, Pinnacle reported the fire and provided its investigation report to the government as required. No one was injured in the fire.

Pinnacle was previously featured in a safety video posted on YouTube by WorkSafe BC after it made changes following the incidents in 2011 and 2014.

The company has also won safety awards.

WATCH BELOW: Emergency crews and STARS air ambulance were called to a renewable energy plant near Entwistle Monday, Feb. 11, 2019. Courtesy: Kyle Wickstrom

On Wednesday, a representative for Pinnacle Renewable Energy issued a statement to Global News, saying the company makes the safety of team members a priority.

“Safety is a core value of Pinnacle,” Lana Ping said in an email. “Through our 30 years of pioneering the production of wood pellets, we have developed a company-wide culture of owning safety.”

Ping said that requires open communication and event reporting to support the “journey of continuous improvement.” She said Pinnacle has played a leading role in the advancement of safety both within the wood pellet and the forest industry.

“Our collaborative work with regulators, behavioural scientists and process engineers has been broadly recognized, greatly improved our safety results and gained us recognition,” Ping said.

“We look forward to working with regulators, engaging external fire safety professionals in better understanding what happened at our Entwistle facility and making the required improvements to ensure events such as this never happen again.”

–With a file from Global News’ Phil Heidenreich

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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