It has been just two weeks since an accidental explosion at the Co-Alliance Union Mills grain facility in LaPorte County, and this week, experts were able to assess the extent of the damage at the scene. In addition to the investigators from the Department of Homeland Security and ATF, the Union Mills location has been inspected by Indiana OSHA and US EPA officials.
“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 October 1, 2013,” said Co-Alliance CEO Kevin Still.
The majority of the damage occurred in the initial explosion. Key components affected were several grain legs and conveyors on the premises. These will be replaced. Additionally, there was damage to four concrete silos, but independent structural engineers and insurance consultants have confirmed that the grain silos can be safely repaired to function through the coming harvest season. Grain dryers at the site will be fully operational, as is the high-speed leg and pit, which were new in 2011. This leg, with new conveyors mentioned above, will feed all bins at the site. Reconstruction will begin immediately, with a commitment from contractors to work 7 days a week to meet the harvest operability goal. Longer term, additional measures will be evaluated and completed in order to have the facility fully restored by spring 2014.
For decades, the Union Mills facility has been an essential service provider in the region, with the high capacity elevator located on rail, and serving hundreds of LaPorte County farmers. The reconstruction project will require the active involvement of several professional engineers, contractors and Co-Alliance staff. On-site assessments continue to be made on a regular basis by the Co-Alliance Safety and Risk Management Department, and local facility manager John Stark.
“We are a farmer-owned co-op, and this facility is critical to our members,” stated Still. “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.”