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Today's News

Brazilian ethanol sales top 1.3 billion liters during H1 June

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 07/01/2019 - 6:25pm

In Brazil, Renewables Now reports that 1.30 billion liters of ethanol were sold during the first half of June, of which 902 million liters was hydrous ethanol and the remainder was anhydrous. Only 42.30 million liters of the total was meant for export while the rest was for domestic consumption. During the same period, hydrous ethanol production fell nearly 6% on the year to 1.37 billion liters while anhydrous ethanol rose more than 5% to 736.89 million liters.

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Chalmers University researchers create wood-based ink for 3D printing that mimics nature

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 07/01/2019 - 6:24pm

In Sweden, researchers at Chalmers University of Technology have succeeded in 3D printing with a wood-based ink in a way that mimics the unique ‘ultrastructure’ of wood. Their research could revolutionize the manufacturing of green products. Through emulating the natural cellular architecture of wood, they now present the ability to create green products derived from trees, with unique properties – everything from clothes, packaging, and furniture to healthcare and personal care products.

By previously converting wood pulp into a nanocellulose gel, researchers at Chalmers had already succeeded in creating a type of ink that could be 3D printed. Now, they present a major progression – successfully interpreting and digitising wood’s genetic code, so that it can instruct a 3D printer.


It means that now, the arrangement of the cellulose nanofibrils can be precisely controlled during the printing process, to actually replicate the desirable ultrastructure of wood. Being able to manage the orientation and shape means that they can capture those useful properties of natural wood.

A further advance on previous research is the addition of hemicellulose, a natural component of plant cells, to the nanocellulose gel. The hemicellulose acts as a glue, giving the cellulose sufficient strength to be useful, in a similar manner to the natural process of lignification, through which cell walls are built.

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Senator John Kennedy tells Ag Secretary to stay out of hardship waivers issue

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 07/01/2019 - 6:20pm

In Washington, U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) told U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue in a letter that he will block the confirmation of department nominees until the USDA stops interfering with a program that protects Louisiana’s small refineries from financial devastation.

He said at issue are hardship waivers – called Small Refinery Exemptions – that give small refineries in Louisiana the ability to remain competitive against larger companies and further President Donald Trump’s initiative for the U.S. to be energy independent.  The USDA is reportedly involved in efforts to interfere with the Small Refinery Exemption program.

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Making Every Carbon Count: The Digest’s 2019 Multi-Slide Guide to Praj

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 07/01/2019 - 6:16pm

Praj had a humble beginning as a supplier of ethanol plants, and today is a global company with a bouquet of sustainable solutions for bioenergy, high purity water, critical process equipment, breweries and industrial wastewater treatment.

Dr. Pramod Kumbhar, Chief Technology Officer at Praj Industries offers this enlightening overview of their lignocellulosic biorefineries, moving from “1G” to “2G”, their 2G ethanol technology development roadmap, side by side comparisons of cellulosic iso-butanol and ethanol, all about lignin valorization, and more at ABLC Global 2018 in San Francisco

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How Low Can You Go with Carbon?: The Digest’s 2019 Multi-Slide Guide to Aemetis

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 06/30/2019 - 5:41pm

Aemetis is an international renewable fuels and biochemicals company using patented industrial biotechnology for the construction and operation of advanced biorefineries. They own and operate a 60+ million gallon ethanol plant in California, a 50 million gallon capacity Biodiesel and Glycerin refinery in India, they are building a $50 million Dairy Biogas digester, pipeline and cleanup system, and are developing $175 million Cellulosic Ethanol plant (waste orchard wood feedstock).

Eric A. McAfee, Chairman/CEO of Aemetis, gave this illuminating overview of how they are working on commercializing below zero carbon advanced biofuels, where their products fit on the California LCFS carbon intensity values, an overview of their cellulosic ethanol plants and projects, their thoughts on federal renewable fuel policies and more. This is one you don’t want to miss

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Food security gets a boost: Calysta gets $30M from BP for protein-based animal feed from natural gas

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 06/30/2019 - 2:10pm

From Menlo Park, California comes big news that alternative protein producer Calysta got a hefty $30 million investment from BP Ventures to support a worldwide rollout of Calysta’s FeedKind protein. Touted as a huge step forward in global food security, Calysta’s sustainable single-cell protein is produced through a proprietary, commercially-validated gas fermentation process using naturally occurring, non-GM microbes with the unique ability to use methane as their energy source. Calysta will use BP’s natural gas as the energy source for their fish and animal feed protein…but the potential could be even bigger if renewable methane could be used.

In today’s Digest, the patented fermentation process used to make FeedKind, BP’s role as natural gas provider, how Calysta’s FeedKind can help meet increasing aquaculture demand in a more sustainable way, the potential to get fish feed from food waste, and more – ready for you now at The Digest online.

The technology and process

Calysta’s patented fermentation process uses no arable land and very little water, and does not compete with the human food chain, meaning more food can be produced with less resources, according to Calysta. It is primarily used currently as an alternative feed ingredient for fish, livestock and pet nutritional products.

During the FeedKind process, a naturally occurring bacteria is grown in a proprietary fermenter using methane as its carbon and energy source. This creates a single cell protein that is harvested and dried prior to being pelletised. The natural fermentation process is similar to the production of yeast for bread. Calysta’s micro-organisms are a naturally occurring component of healthy soils worldwide. FeedKind has no impact on the flavor or texture profile of seafood or animals fed FeedKind.

“In aquaculture, Calysta’s initial market opportunity, FeedKind is seen as a key enabler for growth by reducing reliance on conventional sources of proteins.”

Calysta’s process can help meet the growing demand for feed in the aquaculture and wider agriculture markets without some of the environmental impacts of current sourcing methods. The global aquaculture market is expected to grow up to 25% by 2025, according to BP. The process will help combat overfishing in response to the projected growth. FeedKind protein can be a sustainable substitute for other protein sources currently used – such as fishmeal and soy protein concentrate.

“As the global population grows from 7 billion in 2010 to a projected 9.8 billion in 2050, and incomes grow across the developing world, overall food demand is on course to increase by more than 50 percent, and demand for animal-based foods by nearly 70 percent. FeedKind protein can help achieve a sustainable food future by meeting the growing demands for food while avoiding deforestation and allowing the restoration of abandoned and unproductive land.”

Through extensive customer trials around the world, FeedKind protein has been demonstrated to be an effective, safe and nutritious feed ingredient, according to Calysta. FeedKind is already being produced from the company’s Market Introduction Facility (MIF) in Teesside, England to support market development activities with leading animal nutrition companies around the world.

You can check out their video about FeedKind here.

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Calysta’s Thoughts

Calysta gave a pretty good overview of why food production supply chains are being challenged and why BP’s investment in Calysta’s FeedKind is a game changer.

“Welcoming BP as a partner is a tremendous step forward for FeedKind protein and the best indicator yet that Calysta’s solution to food insecurity in a resource-constrained world can and will achieve global scale,” said Alan Shaw, Ph.D., Calysta President and CEO.

The problems facing our food production supply chains have never been more clear, with increasing evidence that land and water scarcity are key challenges to meeting future demand for protein. FeedKind makes more from less, producing feed for livestock, fish and pets while making smarter use of our resources.”

“We look forward to working closely with BP as we prepare to deliver this product to the world. Calysta will benefit from BP’s operational excellence and focus on safety when deploying multiple production plants.”

BP’s interest in expanding natural gas

Interestingly, BP Ventures had more to say about the gas and power supply part of the investment, rather than the food security and protein side of things but that makes sense since that is where their investment is paying off. The investment agreement will see BP and Calysta establish a strategic partnership around gas and power supply. In fact, this could be a decent part of BP’s gas supply business, especially considering the expected increase in animal feed in coming years.

Meghan Sharp, Managing Director, BP Ventures said, “We are really excited to be working with the team at Calysta, bringing them into the BP Ventures family as we seek new commercial opportunities for our gas business. Their technology complements our core business while providing opportunities for sustainable products for tomorrow.”

“The investment supports BP’s strategy of creating new markets in which gas can play a material role in delivering a more sustainable future and establishing a strategic relationship between BP and California-based start-up Calysta around gas and power supply,” according to BP’s press release.

Dominic Emery, BP’s group head of strategy, said, “By pairing Calysta’s exciting technology and entrepreneurial drive with BP’s global scale and gas market expertise, this partnership offers the opportunity to improve food security and sustainability for the world’s growing population.”

David Hayes, Senior Principal, BP Ventures will be taking up a director seat on the board of Calysta.

Bottom Line

Why we like this is for many reasons, like making protein in a more sustainable way to help meet growing global demand, but natural gas is still a fossil fuel. But this news has true potential. It’s got potential to become food to food. A full circle of life. An end to a beginning and a beginning to an end.

Think about it – instead of using natural gas from BP, could this be made from renewable methane? Could the technology take methane produced from anerobic digestion of food waste and convert it to the FeedKind end product? Could this become food to food? Fish feed from food waste?

In fact, whatever happened to the “fartpacks” that cows were wearing to collect their methane gas in Argentina? Could methane be collected from cows and used to make Calysta’s protein?

According to Calysta, the FeedKind protein can help improve global food security, which is a huge issue that will be getting worse over time with climate change, more people on the planet, less resources like water, more challenges like fires and floods, and what sounds like a Biblical foretelling.

But the signs are already here, and have been for a while, so the fact that here is something that can help food security is a game changer. What could make it even better is if Calysta’s technology could someday convert renewable methane like from food waste to fish food. So someday the fish or beef or chicken you are eating could have been raised without agricultural resources but with renewable methane gas produced protein. Munch on that thought for an even more hopeful future.


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Integrated Landscape Management Reduces Biomass Production Costs By 20%

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 06/30/2019 - 10:55am

In Idaho, a new techno-economic analysis by Idaho National Laboratory demonstrated that, by using integrated landscape management (ILM) techniques, bioenergy stakeholders could produce biomass at costs 20% lower than previous assumptions.

Researchers modeled the cost reductions achieved by leveraging ILM strategies in Kansas, Iowa, and Illinois watersheds. Those strategies included switching to low-cost bioenergy crops such as switchgrass in parts of fields where high-cost crops don’t grow well. This resulted in improved economic and sustainability outcomes—including increased profits for producers and reduced soil erosion—while showing the potential to provide a new revenue stream and a source of biomass for the bioenergy industry at a reduced cost.

ILM techniques include harvesting crop residues in high-yield areas and optimizing the operational efficiency of biomass harvest equipment using GPS data and computers to guide their movements through fields.

This is a new modeling technique within the agricultural community enabled by research expertise and capabilities (computers with AI capability, for instance) at the National Labs that was not available until now.

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Bipartisan ‘Financing Our Energy Future Act’ could help algae markets

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 06/30/2019 - 10:54am

In Washington, D.C., the Algae Biomass Organization is supporting legislation, like the Financing Our Energy Future Act re-introduced earlier this month by U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Representatives Mike Thompson (D-CA-05) and Ron Estes (R-KS-04) that can level the playing field for algae companies that don’t currently qualify for many of the tax advantages enjoyed by the fossil energy industry.

According to ABO, the Financing Our Energy Future Act would allow clean energy companies to form master limited partnerships (MLPs). MLPs are operated and taxed as partnerships but can also be publicly traded, and offer investors liquidity, limited liability and dividends.

For decades, only companies that get their revenues from fossil energy extraction or pipeline projects have been permitted to form MLPs. By combining the funding advantages of corporations and the tax advantages of partnerships, these ventures have been able to more easily attract and deploy capital. Expanding the scope of MLPs could significantly accelerate investment in clean energy projects, including algae cultivation that uses carbon capture for the production of fuel, oils or other valuable products.

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NREL selects 21 participants for 2019 Executive Energy Leadership Program

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 06/30/2019 - 10:50am

In Washington, D.C., the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has selected 21 leaders to participate in its 2019 Executive Energy Leadership program (Energy Execs), which provides non-technical business, governmental, and community leaders an opportunity to learn about advanced energy technologies, analytical tools, and financing to guide their organizations and communities in energy-related decisions and planning.

The four-month program, which begins this month, offers executive decision-makers an in-depth opportunity to learn from some of our laboratory’s most prominent scientists, engineers and professionals, tour our research facilities, and visit local renewable energy installations.

At the conclusion of the program, participants will demonstrate what they’ve learned by presenting a feasible innovative energy project that is relevant to their organization or community. Since its inception in 2007, more than 300 representatives of industry, government and non-profit organizations have completed the Energy Execs program, delivered through the Executive Energy Leadership Academy.

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Small rapeseed harvest coincides with strong demand for biodiesel

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 06/30/2019 - 10:49am

In Germany, according to UFOP, due to the poor growing conditions that have been accompanying winter rapeseed since it was sown, Germany will only see a small rapeseed crop in 2019. The estimate is for around 3.1 million tonnes. This would translate to a 17 per cent drop from the already weak previous year and would also be the smallest winter rapeseed crop in 21 years.

At the same time, German demand for rapeseed is high. In 2018, German production of biodiesel alone amounted to 3.2 million tonnes. According to the Association of the German Biofuels Industry (VDB), the key feedstocks are rapeseed oil, which accounts for just less than 60 per cent, and used cooking oils and fats, which account for 27 per cent. The latter are sourced from collections (from kitchens, restaurants and other sources) that are required by law. Soybean and palm oil play a comparatively small role as feedstocks. Animal fats, fatty acids and other feedstocks together account for no more than 5 per cent.

Biodiesel produced in Germany first and foremost covers demand from the mineral oil companies, which according to BAFA amounted to 2.3 million tonnes in 2018. These companies have to comply with the 4 per cent GHG reduction obligation, as they did the previous year. This mandatory rate will increase to 6 per cent as from 2020. Consequently, it is foreseeable that demand for rapeseed oil for biodiesel production will also rise in the coming year, because, in addition, the amount of palmoil based biodiesel will be limited to the 2019 tonnage as a maximum.

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Cielo closed third tranche of private placements, announces joint venture extensions

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 06/30/2019 - 10:47am

In Canada, Cielo Waste Solutions Corp. announced the closing of $1,020,250 in gross proceeds in the third tranche of its previously announced private placement of convertible debenture units and announced an extension to the deadlines to complete the previously announced joint venture agreements with Renewable U Grande Prairie Inc., Renewable U Medicine Hat Inc., Renewable U Brooks Inc. and Seymour Capital Incorporated, that will govern the building and operation of follow-on Cielo refineries in specified territories in Alberta and Ontario.

In conjunction with the previously announced closing of the first and second tranches of the Offering, announced on May7th and June 4th, 2019, a total of $2,815,250 in gross proceeds has now been raised in the initial three tranches. Net proceeds of the Offering will be used to complete the commissioning of the Company’s refinery in Aldersyde, Alberta, as well as for general working capital.

As a result of requests for additional time for due diligence by the JV Companies, Cielo and the JV Companies have agreed to extend the deadlines by which they had agreed to enter into the respective definitive agreements from June 28th and 30th, 2019, respectively, to September 30th, 2019.

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Sugar mills diversifying to biofuel because of sugar tax, low prices

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 06/30/2019 - 10:46am

In South Africa, the Gledhow sugar mill used to produce just sugarcane products like refined sugar, but is diversifying into biofuel now that the South African government has been more supportive of biofuel from sugarcane. Since the government’s new sugar tax a year ago, there has been a surplus of sugarcane in South Africa that has recently been exported to the world market, but now sugar mills are moving into ethanol as a way to handle the sugarcane surplus while avoiding the sugar tax. And as sugar prices drop globally, sugar mills in South Africa are working with the government to help change their factories and processes for alternative sugarcane products and markets, like biofuels.

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BASF reshapes organization, reduces 6,000 positions globally

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 06/30/2019 - 10:45am

In Germany, with an organizational realignment, BASF is streamlining its administration, sharpening the roles of services and regions and simplifying procedures and processes. As a result, the company expects savings of €300 million, which is anticipated to contribute €2 billion to earnings annually from the end of 2021 onwards.

In the course of the strategy implementation, BASF expects a reduction of a total of around 6,000 positions worldwide until the end of 2021. This decrease results from the organizational simplification and from efficiency gains in administration and services as well as in the operating divisions. In addition, central structures are being streamlined in the context of the announced portfolio changes. BASF will continue to need additional employees in fields like production or digitalization, depending on future growth rates.

First changes will take effect on January 1, 2020.

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Avantium awarded nearly $1.5M for providing sugar streams from nonfood feedstock

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 06/30/2019 - 10:43am

In the Netherlands, Avantium N.V. has been awarded €1.3 million (almost $1.5 million) for its Dawn and Mekong Technologies from the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program. The consortium, coordinated by Avantium, works on developing 100% plant-based chemicals produced from renewable raw materials.

The total subsidy granted to the Industry Consortium “VEHICLE” consisting of 8 European companies, is EUR €5.9 million (about $6.7 million).

During a four-year project, the VEHICLE consortium members aim to widen the business and market opportunities of existing and future biorefineries by demonstrating the applicability of their sugar streams in several downstream options. The role of Avantium in VEHICLE is to provide sugar streams from nonfood feedstock. This sugar is produced in Avantium’s Dawn Technology pilot biorefinery in Delfzijl, the Netherlands. Avantium will also convert industrial sugars from the consortium partners (including the sugars from Avantium’s DAWN pilot biorefinery) into plant-based mono-ethylene glycol (MEG) through its Mekong technology. Plant-MEG is a drop-in component used in the production of many materials, including plant-based polyesters.

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PES held short position on RINs three months before announcing closure

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 06/27/2019 - 4:19pm

In Pennsylvania, Reuters reports that during the two months leading up to the Wednesday announcement that Philadelphia Energy Solutions would close, claiming that the decision was due to a fire, two sources said that the country had built up as much as 90 million dollars’ worth of short positions in RINs over the past several months and stopped buying in March. When the company applied for bankruptcy protection last year, it was 250 million RINs short of its statutory requirements but the court waived the discrepancy to help it.

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POET plans to shift corn supplies between deficit and surplus regions during tight season

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 06/27/2019 - 4:18pm

In Iowa, POET told local press that it has a strategy in place to battle the likely shortfall of corn in Iowa and Indiana this season by shifting corn supplies among its 27 facilities across the Midwest where corn has been 100% or nearly 100% planted on schedule. The company also highlighted that though this season is likely to be short, the country is swimming in corn thanks to surpluses in prior seasons that will balance out demand.

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Global Fuels to auction off 5 MGY biodiesel plant

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 06/27/2019 - 4:17pm

In Missouri, Maas Companies of Rochester, MN will auction Global Fuels’ $11 Million/5 Million Gallon per year biodiesel plant. Maas Companies specializes in the liquidation of specialized and renewable assets for private companies, courts, banks and lenders nationwide. The assets will be sold via a sealed bid auction as the owner is retiring; the deadline for offers is Tuesday, July 23 at 4 PM CDT.

Global Fuels facility was originally built in 2007 with a capacity of 3.1 million gallons per year. The plant went through a technology upgrade in 2013 to increase its capacity to 5 million gallons and allow feedstock processing with free fatty acid content up to 15%. Located in southeastern Missouri, the plant is strategically located near markets in Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee.

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OFTEC study shows using B100 and B30 heating oil best options for England

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 06/27/2019 - 4:16pm

In the UK, new research from OFTEC supports liquid biofuels as a low cost, highest impact carbon reduction solution for oil heated homes. The six-month study used a detailed analysis of oil heated housing stock in England to help inform extensive modelling that compares biofuels with other low carbon heating options available today.

The research findings revealed that biofuels, both a 100% pure biofuel and a 30% blend of FAME and kerosene, provide the best carbon reducing routes for the least financial outlay.

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Thailand to phase out B7 completely by November 2020

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 06/27/2019 - 4:15pm

In Thailand, with the government preparing to announce B10 will be the official diesel at the pump nationwide from November, replacing the current B7, it plans to see B7 completely ushered out by November 2020. With 900 fueling stations across the country currently supplying B20, only 28 stations have B10 available at the pump. The government has been temporarily subsidizing the use of B20 to help drive demand, but that program comes to an end on July 31.

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NTSB publishes initial report on April ethanol train crash in Texas

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 06/27/2019 - 4:14pm

In Washington, National Transportation Safety Board published its preliminary report Monday for the agency’s investigation of the April 24, 2019, derailment of a Union Pacific Railroad train near Fort Worth, Texas.

Union Pacific train UEBLTG 20 was a 6,122 foot-long, high-hazard flammable, key train carrying denatured ethanol in 96 loaded rail tank cars. Twenty-five of the tank cars derailed near milepost 48.8 on the UP Midlothian Subdivision. The derailment resulted in the breaching of at least three tank cars that leaked approximately 74,000 gallons of denatured alcohol which subsequently ignited. Some of the product entered a nearby tributary of the Trinity River. No people were injured in the accident however three horses died and three horses were injured.

The 25 derailed rail tank cars, numbers 17 through 41 in the train, included:

  • • Seventeen DOT-117R100W retrofitted CPC-1232 tank cars. All were equipped with jackets, head shields, bottom outlet valve operating mechanisms designed to keep valves closed during derailments, top fittings protection and ceramic-fiber thermal protection blankets. Some of the tank cars had 7/16-inch thick heads and shells, others had 1/2-inch thick heads and shells.
  • • Seven DOT-117J100W tank cars with 9/16-inch thick heads and shells, equipped with jackets, head shields, ceramic-fiber thermal protection blankets and top and bottom fittings protection.
  • • One DOT-111A100W tank car with 7/16-inch thick head and shell, with no jacket, no thermal protection, no head shield and no top fitting or bottom outlet protection.
  • • At least three of the 25 derailed tank cars breached including two DOT-117R100W tank cars and one DOT-111A100W tank car.

The cause of the derailment remains under investigation and NTSB investigators plan to return to Texas to more closely examine additional tank cars involved in the accident to assess damage and look for breaching. Some tank car parts were shipped to the NTSB Materials Laboratory for examination.

Heavy rainfall occurred during the evening of the accident and a large amount of water from nearby Lake Echo flowed through the railroad right-of-way. The ongoing investigation will examine safety issues including effective weather alert communications, policies and rules as well as inspection and maintenance of storm water drainage from lakes.

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