Union Mills Co-Op to be reconstructed

2013-07-15T16:23:00Z 2013-07-15T21:56:03Z Union Mills Co-Op to be reconstructedStan Maddux Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
July 15, 2013 4:23 pm  • 

UNION MILLS | A grain elevator in Union Mills damaged in a deadly explosion last month will be rebuilt, according to Co-Alliance officials.

The goal is to have a reconstruction of the Co-Op finished in order to accept grain from the fall harvest, Co-Alliance officials stated.

Co-Alliance operates of the grain bin where a June 24 explosion killed James Swank, 67, of Union Mills.

Swank, a Co-Op employee, was on a work platform on the outside of a silo when the impact from the blast caused him to fall more than 100 feet to the ground.

"As a result of these findings, we are now able to move forward in developing our reconstruction plan, with the goal of receiving soybeans at harvest and wet corn by Oct. 1," Co-Alliance CEO Kevin A. Still said.

According to investigators, the explosion happened when a steel shaft on a pulley operating a conveyor came loose.

The heavy steel pulley slid into a concrete wall. Because the conveyor kept operating, the pulley continued to rotate.

Friction from the pulley rubbing against the concrete wall generated enough heat to ignite grain dust in the elevator resulting in an explosion.

Inspectors with several agencies including, the Department of Homeland Security and Indiana OSHA and EPA, determined the majority of the damage occurred in the initial explosion.

Still said reconstruction will begin immediately and contractors have expressed a commitment to work seven days a week for the Co-Op to be open to accept grain from the upcoming harvest.

The Co-Op, which contains 24 grain silos, will undergo further evaluation and extra measures could be taken to have the facility fully restored by spring 2014, Still said.

"We are a farmer-owned co-op, and this facility is critical to our members," he said. "We have already made significant investments in agribusiness and this community and we will continue to do so. We are committed to Union Mills, and will do everything in our power to get the facility up and on line serving farmers as soon as possible."

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