It seems like there has been an abundance of stories in the news lately that involve combustible dust explosions in grain elevators. During the week of August 6th, there were two explosions reported at separate CHS, Inc. facilities located in Minnesota, which resulted in five injuries. That same week, another explosion was reported at Greenway Co-Op, also located in Minnesota. Fortunately, no one was injured in this incident.

There have been a couple more grain elevator combustible dust explosions reported in the recent weeks. One explosion occurred at the Bunge Oil Processing Plant in Cairo, Illinois. Firefighters say that it started early in the morning and spread to about the size of a football field before the fire was extinguished. While the cause of the explosion is still being investigated, firefighters say that it could have sparked when a rotator belt caught fire and spread to the grain below. Bunge operates in approximately 40 countries to produce products that range from animal feed to consumer foods to renewable fuels.

The second grain elevator fire occurred at Citizens LLC, located in Charlotte, Michigan. Citizens offers bulk and individual packaged chemicals, bulk and bagged fertilizer, custom fertilizer blending and bulk and bagged seed. The fire started around 8am in a grain elevator used to store soy beans that were being shipped to Japan. Firefighters were able to bring the fire under control within a couple of hours, using four-thousand gallons of water a minute. They remained on scene to make sure the fire was completely extinguished. While this fire remains under investigation, as well, firefighters believe it could have been electrical or caused by a mechanical error. Co-Owner of Citizens, Robert Mansfield stated that while the damage is less than originally thought, the fire will still set operations back a few months, as they will have to rebuild the plant, which is a “monumental task”. Damage to the facility was mainly contained in the fourth floor of the building.

Fortunately, there were no injuries reported in any of these combustible dust incidents.

By Jeff Harrington, CEO and Founder of Harrington Group, Inc.