By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
HOUSTON – The controversial biofuels business MIPCO apparently is moving equipment to Aberdeen.
Whether it’s any closer to making commercial grade biodiesel wasn’t clear Tuesday, although a hubbub occurred at its Houston plant as semi-trucks pulled up to haul away five large tanks.
Why or if MIPCO is moving from Houston wasn’t immediately clear, but the facility’s owner – state Sen. Jack Gordon of Okolona – believes the company will be gone before another $10,000 monthly rent payment comes due.
“I expect them to be gone by the first,” Gordon said late Tuesday after he had driven from legislative work in Jackson to Houston and speaking with attorneys and law enforcement agents about what was going on at the Houston Industrial Park site.
As far as anyone not associated with MIPCO knows, no plant is ready in Aberdeen to receive the equipment, although its address is listed at 20113 Norm Connell Road, according to the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.
Permits to operate there are “still in process,” said DEQ spokesman Robbie Wilbur.
The agency has not been notified about any closure of the Houston operation.
Aberdeen was the business’ first choice for a location when it announced plans for a biodiesel refinery at the Monroe County town’s port in January.
But MIPCO, officially named Mississippi Investment Petroleum Co., ran into problems at that site and moved to Houston to begin production, although it’s not known if it ever made fuel there.
No, they didn’t, say officials with the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce, which regulates the sale of commercial fuels.
And Dr. Jose Rodriguez, a biofuels expert at Mississippi State University, said the MIPCO samples his lab tested “were not very good.”
Gordon dashed to Houston when he got a call claiming that MIPCO was removing equipment designated by a federal court order to be handed over to its true owner.
But when he arrived at the plant, he discovered MIPCO was moving its own equipment.
“As long as they hook my equipment back up, that’s the only thing I’m concerned with now,” Gordon said.
On site, Spears Towing of Tupelo had two semis with flat-bed trailers ready to move whatever MIPCO wanted moved. A Spears spokesman declined to say who hired them or why.
Gordon apparently called various officials on his way to Houston, including Sheriff Jimmy Simmons, who stood by as Gordon and MIPCO personnel discussed their plans.
Apparently, Senior U.S. District Judge Neal Biggers Jr. also was brought to attention about the matter. A recent local lawsuit asking MIPCO to return some investor money notes that in April Biggers ordered that biofuels refinery equipment belonging to a company named MKBS LLC be seized and returned to MKBS by the sheriff’s office.
Tuesday, Simmons said his office never received a copy of Biggers’ order and now he’s waiting for it to arrive.
“This is the first I’ve heard about it,” he said outside the MIPCO plant.
Simmons said he believes most of that equipment to be at a defunct refinery in Okolona.
Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or firstname.lastname@example.org.