April 18, 2015

Fire destroys roof of Dane County manure digester

The roof of a manure digester in northern Dane County was destroyed this morning, after a small explosion ignited a poly fabric cover on the unit.

The Dane County Sheriff’s office says workers had just started an exhaust fan on the digester, which had been emptied earlier this week for cleaning, when they heard a loud noise. An inflatable nylon cover on top of the digester then burst into flames, destroying it. The cost of replacing the cover is $250,000.

The digester was one of three operated by Milwaukee-based Clear Horizons LLC in the Town of Vienna, as part of a public/private partnership to convert methane case from cow manure to produce electricity.

Clear Horizons project manager Leo Maney says the fire did not result in the release of any environmental contaminants and there were no injuries.. The company says the digester facility was shut down to allow fire fighters to access the scene, and the unit where the fire occureed will remain down until they are confident it can be restarted.

The fire is the latest in a series of accidents at the digesters. The facility has seen multiple spills since last November, due to burst pipes that dumped more than 400,000 gallons of liquid manure.