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That's a lot of industrial ethanol

There seems to be something a little strange about the recent tanker explosion:

US coastguard rescuers were searching the freezing waters off Virginia yesterday for 18 crew members missing after a tanker carrying industrial ethanol exploded late on Saturday.
Three people have been confirmed dead in the accident, and six have been rescued.

The tanker, sailing under a Singaporean flag, was making its way from New York to Houston carrying 16m litres (3.5m gallons) of the highly flammable liquid. Ethanol is commonly used as a solvent in varnishes and perfumes, and as a fuel...

There had been 24 Filipinos and three Greeks on board the ship...

The 39,000-tonne ship, Bow Mariner, was owned by the Norwegian shipping company Odfjell Seachem.

(NYT report here)

I know next to nothing about biomass, ethanol, and the rest. But, I do know how to use google.

Namely: what were they doing carrying a large amount of industrial ethanol from New York to Houston, when New York - in fact the whole Northeast - doesn't seem to be a hotbed of ethanol production?

Consider the chart at the end of this page, which shows ethanol production by state. The entire Northeast appears to be nearly devoid of ethanol production, at least as of 2000. Consider this list of ethanol producers, none of which are in the Northeast. Here's another list of producers, only one of which is in New York. This 2000 press release discusses building plants in PA and NY. This page from Jan. 2002 says, "the ethanol industry can sustain approximately 700 jobs through the annual production of 30 million gallons of denatured ethanol plus related co-products," said Kevin Swartley, president of New York Corn Growers". This New York plant can produce 9.5 million gallons of ethanol per year, just three times that carried by the tanker. And, apparently due to new legislation concerning MTBE, demand for ethanol in New York has increased.

Like I said, I'm no ethanol expert. But, all of this leaves me wondering, where the heck did all that ethanol come from?

Miscellania · Sun, 02/29/2004 - 19:52 · Importance: 1