Lack of Preventative Maintenance Led to Explosion at Grain Processing Facility

The explosion suppression system was "in a state of disrepair."

OSHA investigators determined that a lack of preventative maintenance contributed to a combustible corn germ dust explosion at an Archer-Daniels-Midland plant in Decatur, Illinois, in April. 

The investigation discovered that a significant contributor to the incident at the ADM West Plant was that the explosion suppression system on the indoor bucket elevator leg was “non-functional and in a state of disrepair.” Furthermore, investigators found that the grain processing facility had not tested and inspected the systems in about seven years.

The explosion sent three workers to the hospital with burns and other injuries and caused extensive damage to the grain elevator. 

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OSHA tagged ADM with two willful, one serious and one other-than-serious violation. The willful violations covered the lack of maintenance and inspections of systems designed for explosion and deflagration protection. The serious violation involved accumulations of fugitive grain dust that exceeded an eighth of an inch within 35 feet of a bucket elevator’s casings and head section.

The violations add up to over $324,000 in proposed fines. 

This isn’t the first time ADM has been in trouble for shoddy inspections. They were cited in April 2019 for neglecting safety systems after a 2018 explosion at its East Campus. Additionally, in January 2019, an explosion and deflagration propagation event at the company’s East Wet Milling Corn Plant led to a hazard alert letter that outlined concerns with the performance and documentation of explosion suppression and other systems.

More presently, OSHA is inspecting ADM’s East Plant after another explosion and fire injured eight workers in September.

OSHA also issued citations to ADM in September after investigating a collision that killed a locomotive cap operator at the company’s East Soy Plant in April. OSHA found that ADM did not ensure that crews positioned rail cars with enough clearance to prevent collisions.

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