Images of the unusual color smoke over Edmonton started appearing on social media as residents began calling local police in an attempt to figure out what was going on.
— Darlene (@dar113) February 28, 2020
According to city officials, the smoke was the result of a power failure at Enerkem Alberta Biofuels, an ethanol plant. The plant turns trash into ethanol that is used to power cars and trucks.
“There was a release of a substance which resulted in a large purple cloud,” a statement from Enerkem read.
“City of Edmonton Emergency Response Teams intervened quickly and deemed the area safe after conducting a prompt investigation.”
Edmonton Fire Rescue Services spokeswoman Suzzette Mellado said that a single crew responded to the incident 17 minutes after the smoke first appeared. The crew found smoke but no fire.
Officials have reported that the unusual smoke posed no risk to the public or to the environment, despite its bright color.
City of Edmonton spokeswoman Nicole Paradis reported that officials would “continue looking into the situation.” Paradis also said, “The quantity of substance that was evacuated in the air is below occupational exposure limits and there are no safety or health concerns.”
The Enerkem plant apologized for “any inconvenience or alarm” caused by the incident.
— Neil Kowalski (@Edmonton_Eh) February 28, 2020
According to Fox43, a plant in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania emitted colored smoke in 2019 thanks to a load of garbage that contained iodine.
The Enerkem facility has resumed regular operations.