Owner Issues Statement On Union Mills Grain Bin Explosion

From the Co-Alliance LLP, homepage:

“With great sadness, Co-Alliance, LLP, confirms news reports that employee James Swank tragically lost his life in a grain explosion accident on the afternoon of June 24, 2013. The incident occurred at the company’s Union Mills grain facility. Mr. Swank, age 67, had worked at the facility for seven years and was a resident of Union Mills. “This is a profound loss for our co-op family,” said CEO Kevin Still. “Our thoughts and prayers are with James and his family during this very difficult time.”

Earliest news reports of the accident indicated erroneously that the incident occurred at a fertilizer plant. Union Mills is both an agronomy retail center, and a grain elevator and storage facility. Preliminary indications are that an explosion took place at the top of the grain elevator. Thorough investigations are still on-going, but the focus for the cause is centered on grain dust ignition. Shawn Lambert, Co-Alliance Safety and Risk Manager, who has been on site and is coordinating the internal investigation stated, “The facility has been secured, and all other employees have been accounted for, with no other injuries reported.”

Co-Alliance employees and management sincerely thank all first responders to the scene, specifically, but not limited to the LaPorte and Lake County Sheriffs’ Departments, Noble Township Fire Department, LaPorte and Porter Counties Emergency Management Agencies, ATF, the Indiana State Fire Marshall’s Office, Indiana Department of Homeland Security, The American Red Cross and all other first responders, for their quick and professional efforts in securing the facility and providing assistance to employees. We also thank those members of the local community who have expressed concern and support.

In the days to come, Co-Alliance and its employees will be working closely with investigating agencies to provide any assistance necessary. Ensuring the safety and health of employees is of primary concern. The company has arranged for grief counselors to be on site. Determining the cause of the accident is our top priority moving forward. As more information becomes available and is confirmed, it will be included in future updates. Services for Mr. Swank are pending, and details will follow.”

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