AERT Hopes to Resume Full Operations Friday

by Amy Riggin  on Thursday, May. 22, 2008 11:50 am  

Operations at the North Plant of Advanced Environmental Recycling Technologies Inc. in Springdale resumed Wednesday evening after an explosion earlier in the day injured a worker and knocked out power around the Jefferson Street facility.

A safety inspection is now under way by city and company officials, and spokesperson Katy Reagan said AERT is hoping to resume operations at the South Plant by Friday. 

The AERT employee injured in the blast at one of the South Plant silos, which stores raw materials, suffered second degree burns to his arms and face and was transferred to a burn unit in Tulsa on Wednesday and is still hospitalized.

It was the second explosion at the new South Plant in less than a year. There was a dust explosion in April 2007 before the South Plant began production of AERT's composite decking product made of wood fibers and waste plastic materials. 

Both the April 2007 explosion and Wednesday's blew the top off the silo.

According to a press release issued by AERT on Wednesday, the company alerted the Springdale Fire Department about a heat build-up in the silo on Tuesday. The explosion happened at 8:45 a.m. and firefighters were able to extinguish the flames by 9 a.m. according to AERT. 

News reports of downed power lines were inaccurate, Reagan said. She said CEO Joe Brooks informed her that the power lines weren't taken out, but the safety switches had been knocked out and have been reset.

AERT's shares were down 2 cents, to 72 cents, in early trading Thursday. The company reported a sales increase in the first quarter to $29.3 million, up from $22.4 million in 1Q 2007. The company posted a quarterly loss of $1.4 million as it ramped up a marketing effort of its MoistureShield product with a $2.2 million increase in its selling, general and administrative costs.



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