Grain Bin Collapse: Searching For Answers

A retailer’s worst nightmare, last week’s grain bin collapse in Hillsboro, IA, is now in the cleanup stage. What happened?

According to the Burlington Hawk Eye, a large grain bin at Chem Gro of Hillsboro containing a reported 500,000 bushels of corn collapsed around 8 p.m. Nov. 20. The massive torrent of grain moved a neighboring house, knocking down the walls and roof of the home of Jesse and Jennifer Kellet, trapping the couple, along with their two children, inside. Rescuers were able to dig Jennifer and daughter Sheyanne, 9, out in a few minutes, but Jesse and Jordan, 11, were trapped for a few hours before being pulled out to safety. The rescuers used high-powered blowers to suck the corn from the house.

According to various newspaper and online reports, the grain bin had been built during the summer and was a cause of contention in the community. A neighbor confirmed that the Kellets had talked with an attorney about the bin’s close proximity to their property.

Harold Dyer, one of the owners of Chem Gro, told the Hawk Eye that removal of the spilled grain is continuing, even through snow flurries. A report from WQAD noted “there’s a mountain of corn worth more than $1.5 million dollars.”

Houghton, IA-based Chem Gro owns several grain elevators in the region. Dyer believes they have owned the Hillsboro facility for about 20 years and have not had other problems with grain bins.

He said company officials don’t have any clues why the bin fell, noting that it will be up to engineers to investigate the matter. “It’s very unusual for those bins to split like that,” he told the Hawk Eye. “I’ve never heard of it before.”

As of Monday (Nov. 26) afternoon, Jesse Kellett is in good condition with several lacerations, according to his wife. Doctors are concerned about severe cuts on his left foot.

Meanwhile, a Cedar Rapids salvage company hired by the grain elevator’s insurance company is cleaning up the spill. Dyer didn’t know how much corn has been removed since Monday’s spill. “The community has been helpful,” Dyer told the Hawk Eye newspaper. “The farmers in the area came in with their equipment that night and did a really good job. Considering everything, we’re getting along very well.”

The bin was manufactured and erected by Conrad American, whose parent company is Hawkeye Steel Co. in Houghton. Thomas Wenstrand, one of the company’s owners, declined to comment on the matter.

Dyer said Chem Gro officials aren’t sure if they will rebuild.”We’ll clean up first and make our plans from there,” he told the newspaper.

A number of factors could cause a grain bin to collapse, including a bin’s age, a manufacturer’s error, poor-quality concrete foundation or poor-quality steel, how the bin was loaded or unloaded, wind, and shifting soil under a foundation. According to Jerry Wille of Curry, Wille and Associates in Ames, IA, bin manufactures usually follow the standards of industry, which are set by the national engineering group. Those standards were upgraded in the late 1970s as grain bins got bigger and ways to load and unload them got faster.

“The thing that people tend to believe is that someone is out to make a buck and cut corners,” said Wille, an agricultural engineer and consultant for facilities associated with agriculture, including grain bins. “I’ve worked with a lot of contractors. If they know there is a problem, they will correct it. Nobody wants a failure.”

Grain doesn’t act like water when it’s being unloaded. The mass reacts different ways inside the bin’s confinement. “Bins are a living and breathing material. Pressures inside a bin change all the time,” Wille said. “We think of steel and concrete as stable. But everything is changing and moving around.”

(Sources include the Burlington Hawk Eye, WQAD, and The Associated Press)

Leave a Reply

Management Stories

Allen Summers Asmark Institute PSM Training
EmployeesAsmark Institute Sponsors 25 ResponsibleAg Auditor Training Scholarships
June 21, 2016
The Asmark Institute has announced plans to provide 25 scholarships through their affiliated State fertilizer and agrichemical associations to help encourage Read More
LegislationVilsack Christens WinField Crop Adventure, Talks Monsanto-Bayer, GMO-Labeling and TPP
June 17, 2016
The WinField Crop Adventure grand opening ceremonies at Fair Oaks Farms (near Winemac, IN) welcomed USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Read More
Crop InputsFields of the Future: WinField Doubles Down with Agri-Education Center Investment (w/Photo Gallery)
June 16, 2016
Land O’Lakes, Inc., joined by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, today will host Fields of the Future, a live broadcast about Read More
Trending Articles
Food IT
Industry NewsCalifornia Event Will Mix Ag And Tech Professionals To Explore IT Solutions
June 20, 2016
Silicon Valley is hot on agriculture, and an upcoming event in California will bring together the food and tech industries Read More
Monsanto Luling Plant
Eric SfiligojWhat’s Next For Monsanto?
May 31, 2016
For the folks at Monsanto’s headquarters in St. Louis, MO, it has been an eventful few weeks. Back on May Read More
Soybean Plant closeup
Industry NewsMonsanto Rejects Bayer Bid; Open To More Talks
May 25, 2016
Monsanto Co, the world’s largest seed company, turned down Bayer AG’s $62 billion acquisition bid as “incomplete and financially inadequate” Read More
Eric SfiligojPity The Monsanto Haters
May 23, 2016
An old saying goes thus: “Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.” Given current events, there Read More
Monsanto Luling Plant
Crop InputsReport: Bayer Eyeing Monsanto For Possible Mega-Merger
May 16, 2016
Bayer AG is exploring a potential bid for U.S. competitor Monsanto Co. in a deal that would create the world’s Read More
Aerial Drone
Precision AgA Deeper Dive Into The Future Of Precision Ag
May 9, 2016
For about two decades now, through the good and the bad times, the ups and the downs inherent in agriculture, Read More
Latest News
Allen Summers Asmark Institute PSM Training
EmployeesAsmark Institute Sponsors 25 ResponsibleAg Auditor Trai…
June 21, 2016
The Asmark Institute has announced plans to provide 25 scholarships through their affiliated State fertilizer and agrichemical associations to help encourage Read More
Kennebec Elevator
CropLife 100Wheat Growers Celebrates Kennebec Elevator Grand Openin…
June 21, 2016
Over 250 patrons and guests were on hand to celebrate Wheat Growers’ Kennebec Elevator grand opening. South Dakota Secretary of Read More
Land O Lakes
Industry NewsLand O’Lakes To Acquire Ceres
June 20, 2016
Land O’ Lakes, Inc. and Ceres, Inc. have announced that they have signed a definitive merger agreement under which Land O’Lakes Read More
Food IT
Industry NewsCalifornia Event Will Mix Ag And Tech Professionals To …
June 20, 2016
Silicon Valley is hot on agriculture, and an upcoming event in California will bring together the food and tech industries Read More
LegislationVilsack Christens WinField Crop Adventure, Talks Monsan…
June 17, 2016
The WinField Crop Adventure grand opening ceremonies at Fair Oaks Farms (near Winemac, IN) welcomed USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Read More
Crop InputsFields of the Future: WinField Doubles Down with Agri-E…
June 16, 2016
Land O’Lakes, Inc., joined by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, today will host Fields of the Future, a live broadcast about Read More
Bayer sign
Crop InputsMonsanto Turns Back Bayer Again
June 14, 2016
Bayer AG’s bid to buy Monsanto Co. for more than $60 billion has hit an impasse that could pose a Read More
Young Corn Field
Crop NutritionNext Generation Of Nitrogen Efficiency Technology Conve…
June 13, 2016
Commodity price projections indicate farmers will continue to face tight margins again this year. Delivering higher yields and more bushels Read More
Industry NewsLa Crosse Seed Acquires Cover Crop Solutions Brand
June 10, 2016
La Crosse Seed announces that it is the new and exclusive owner of the entire family of brands of Cover Read More
ManagementTravel Plans and EU Rejection of Glyphosate, Biotech Cr…
June 9, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about upcoming trips and the latest in the European Union’s moves against glyphosate Read More
Aspire with Boron
Crop InputsStudy: Aspire with Boron Ups Alfalfa Yields
June 8, 2016
Alfalfa growers are successfully improving yields through the cutting season by applying an important micronutrient. In a recent study, The Read More
Industry NewsAGCO Announces Tragic Death of Longtime Employee
June 8, 2016
It is with deepest regret that we announce the passing of our dear friend, colleague and customer advocate-in-chief Kevin W. Read More
Wheat Field North Dakota
Industry NewsBASF Inks Northern Seed for Clearfield Wheat R&D Li…
June 6, 2016
BASF has licensed Northern Seed LLC to perform research and development of BASF’s proprietary and patented Clearfield technology in wheat. Read More
ManagementBayer/Monsanto, EU/Glyphosate, Corn/Soybeans
June 2, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss the latest regarding industry mergers, the glyphosate debate in Europe, and an update Read More
Growers looking at soybeans
Industry NewsKoch Licenses 2 Marrone Products For North American Dis…
June 2, 2016
Koch Agronomic Services (Koch), with support from its affiliate, Koch Biological Solutions, has secured exclusive rights to sell REGALIA Rx Read More
Gypsum
Industry NewsBeneficial Reuse Management Launches GYPSOIL BLENDABLE
June 2, 2016
Beneficial Reuse Management (BRM) has introduced GYPSOIL BLENDABLE, a new high-quality pelleted gypsum fertilizer that supplies 17% sulfate sulfur and Read More
StewardshipAgrible Joins Field To Market To Pursue Sustainable Sou…
June 1, 2016
Agrible, Inc. has joined Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture as an associate member. As a leading multi-stakeholder Read More