Union Mills, IN — A grain silo explosion in Indiana has killed one worker. The incident happened at the Co-Alliance fertilizer and grain facility on Monday afternoon.
The facility is about 70 miles southeast of Chicago in LePorte County. Initially it was reported that the explosion happened at a fertilizer facility.
While Co-Alliance does have fertilizer at its facility, safety and risk manager Shawn Lambert later explained the explosion was in a grain silo. The worker killed in the blast was James Swank, 67, of Union Mills. Lambert added of the death, “We pride ourselves on safety and we are very saddened by the fact that we lost somebody.”
It is not yet clear where Swank was in the concrete grain silo at the time of the explosion. Lambert added that it is possible the worker was either on the roof or in the ground level section. All other workers were accounted for.
The LaPorte County Sheriff’s Department stated in a Facebook post Monday afternoon that no hazardous chemicals were involved in the explosion. Also, no gases were released during the incident and there was no fire.
Despite this, the Indiana grain silo explosion still brought back memories of a fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas two months ago. The massive blast killed 14 people and injured more than 200. Another explosion happened two weeks ago in Geismar, Louisiana. One person was killed and 73 injured at the Williams Olefins chemical plant.
LaPorte County Coroner John Sullivan stated on Monday night that Swank died from multiple blunt force trauma. Sullivan added that the incident could have been caused by grain dust, which is highly volatile.
Sullivan added that neighbors recalled a concussion-like explosion that sent a large amount of white smoke into the air. However, considering there was no fire, it is likely that grain dust was to blame. The highly volatile material can be set off by someone using a hammer.
Purdue University farm safety expert Steve Wettschurack explained, “It’ll shake the countryside. There’s a lot of power to it. But there’s not really a lot of fire to it.” In that, the Indiana explosion was not like the West, Texas blast, which threw a massive fireball into the sky and burned several homes.
A probe has been launched in to the Union Mills, Indiana grain silo explosion.
[Image via YouTube]