Last Sunday, a grain elevator owned by Bartlett Grain Co., exploded in Atchison, Kan., due to lack of humidity.
Six of the workers at the elevator were killed in the blast, but only three could be recovered over the weekend due to unstable concrete due to the blast. State grain inspector Travis Kiel, Curtis Field, and another inspector, which has yet to be identified, were found on Sunday.
Grain elevators are where farmers take the grain they grow after harvest to be stored – before it is taken to market, this elevator was large, and was used for storing and possessing grain.
Despite this explosion, people are still feeling safe working at the elevators. Experts say that the grain elevators are becoming less frequent, thanks to new safety procedures and rules established in the 1970s, after 50 people were killed from similar explosions in four separate states, only six days apart from each other.
But, this blast still reminds workers of the dangers of working at grain elevators. The grain, which is stored there, is quite flammable – especially right after harvest. This explosion, happening just 13 short years after the tragic DeBruce grain elevator explosion on June 8, 1998. Killing many of its workers, this was a tragic shock.
Figuring out why this happened could take months. An OSHA representative said. The elevator is also said to have forgone inspection since the day the elevator was purchased five years ago. With the DeBruce explosion, OSHA officials determined that the explosion was caused by dust, and skipped repairs – the most likely place for the ignition point was a sized up conveyor belt roller bearing was not lubricated, and it became too hot.
As of Monday, the last three workers, which were reported missing on Sunday, were found: Chad Roberts, Ryan Federinko and John Burke, who were all under 25. Members of their families reportedly made a memorial for the fallen workers, a sweatshirt with Federinko’s name and “Why?” were written in marker and placed on the sign outside of the grain elevator.
The president of Bartlett Grain, Bill Fellows, concluded in a statement that the workers had been loading grain when the explosion happened, and a South Dakota engineer, with experience in these kinds of accidents was brought to help investigators at the elevator.
One thing is for certain, that these workers will be missed and families are trying to get on with their lives, but also trying to prevent this type of accident from happening again – and taking innocent lives.