Combustible Dust Explosion Repeat Experience for Bartlett Grain Co.
Earlier this month, one man was injured in what is believed to be a combustible dust explosion at the Bartlett Milling Company facility located in Statesville, North Carolina. The explosion occurred on a Sunday morning at approximately 8:30AM while two maintenance workers were in the basement of the building repairing a piece of equipment. One of the men turned the power back on, which apparently initiated an explosion resulting in the collapse of several exterior brick walls and damage to equipment. The incident occurred in the “cleaning house” of the facility, which is a building that houses the early stages of the milling process. The exact cause of the fire remains under investigation, however investigators suspect that combustible dust may have been the fuel that was ignited.
This is not the first time combustible dust was involved in an explosion for Bartlett Grain Co. In October 2011, a grain elevator exploded at their Atchison, Kansas facility, killing six people. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) later cited the company for several willful safety violations, as well as a $406,000 fine. Among the violations, OSHA claimed that Bartlett Grain allowed grain dust, which is nine times as explosive as coal dust, to accumulate. They also stated that the company used compressed air to remove dust without shutting down ignition sources first. U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis stated, “Bartlett Grain’s disregard for the law led to a catastrophic accident and heartbreaking tragedy for the workers who were injured or killed, their families, and the agricultural community.”
Thankfully, no one was killed in the explosion at the North Carolina facility. The condition of the injured man has yet to be released.