Worker Killed in Explosion at Indiana Grain Elevator

Cause of Union Mills Co-op blast remains unknown

 

 
 
 

| Tuesday, June 25, 2013


UNION MILLS, Ind. (AP) — An explosion Monday inside a grain elevator killed a worker at a sprawling northwestern Indiana farm co-op, authorities said.

The cause of the blast at the Union Mills Co-op remained unknown Monday evening several hours after the blast. The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firms and Explosives and the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration were among the agencies sending investigators to the scene.

It wasn't clear where the victim, James Swank, 67, of Union Mills, was at time of the blast, but he might have been loading grain into train cars with two other workers, Maj. John Boyd of the LaPorte County Sheriff's Department said.

"At this point we're just not sure," Boyd said.

All other employees were accounted for and no other injuries were reported.

Swank died from multiple blunt force trauma, LaPorte County Coroner John Sullivan said. It may have been a grain dust explosion, he said.

"Neighbors reported a large, concussion-like explosion that shook their homes, followed by a large amount of white smoke," Sullivan said.

Purdue University farm safety expert Steve Wettschurack said grain dust is highly volatile, and a small spark, even from someone using a hammer, can set off a blast, Wettschurack said.

"It'll shake the countryside. There's a lot of power to it. But there's not really a lot of fire to it," he said.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration website says more than 500 explosions in grain-handling facilities across the nation over the last 35 years have killed 180 people and injured more than 675. Grain dust is the main source of fuel for explosions in grain handling, the website said.

Shawn Lambert, safety manager for Avon, Ind.-based co-op owner Co-Alliance, says the explosion occurred inside a grain elevator with several connected silos.

Boyd said the co-op property covers several acres and includes storage for hazardous material, including fertilizers and anhydrous ammonia, elsewhere on the site. The property is about 50 miles southeast of Chicago.

The Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration has no record of any inspections at the co-op, spokesman Bob Dittmer said.

Co-Alliance is a farmer-owned supply and marketing cooperative serving rural communities in Indiana, Ohio and southern Michigan.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.
 



Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: News, grain silo, blast injuries

 
What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

The Evolution of Civilian High Threat Medical Guidelines

How mass killing events have proven a need for new guidelines.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Ebola Changes How North Carolina EMS Responds to Calls

Concern about virus spread leads to new protocols.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Oklahoma Hospitals Prepare for Ebola Cases

Training and preparation are keys for metro hospitals.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

EMS in Nevada Prepares for the Unexpected

Protocols and PPE protect AMR personnel.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

D.C. Fire and EMS Brace for Possible Ebola Patients

Union leader shares concern over precautions.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Life Link III Trauma Tactics Conference in Minnesota

Conference was designed to enhance the skills of providers of all levels, covering rescue and prehospital situations, to transport and in-hospital treatment.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

EMS Tailgating

Rigs converted for football.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

CDC Ebola Training for Clinicians

Students learn the complexities of working in bulky suits.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Braun Ambulances' EZ Door Forward

Helps to create a safer ambulance module.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

LMA MAD Nasal™

Needle-free intranasal drug delivery.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Field Bridge Xpress ePCR on iPad, Android, Kindle Fire

Sneak peek of customizable run forms & more.
Watch It >


More Product Videos >