Four men were injured on April 16, 2015 in a grain elevator explosion at the Co-Alliance Feed Mill in LaCrosse, Indiana. The Northwest Indiana Times reports the blast was powerful enough to blow larges holes out of both sides of the 175-foot-tall feed mill. The explosion even shook homes as far as 15 miles away and produced a flash fire.
Fire officials ordered that the area sealed off due to a risk for collapse and felt damage to the structure was too extensive to be rebuilt. The investigation into what caused the explosion was turned over to the Indiana State Fire Marshal’s Office, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Following the explosion, the Times reported the grain elevator was about to close in just two weeks. The feed mill operation was going to be consolidated with a new grain elevator, about 40 miles south in Reynolds, Indiana. The new facility is more modern and more efficient as the LaCrosse plant was said to have 50-year-old technology.
This isn’t the only recent dangerous incident the company has experienced. In 2013, another Co-Alliance grain elevator, this one was located nearby in Union Mills, Indiana, exploded and caused a 67-year-old worker to fall over 100 feet to his death. The explosion was a result of a mechanical failure which generated sparks that ignited grain dust.
It is important for employers to provide workers with safe equipment and it raises concern that the LaCrosse mill had dated technology and was even set to cease operations at the mill. It also is alarming to note that the company experienced two incidents that injured or killed employees within two years.