Wisconsin corn milling plant explosion kills three

An explosion and fire on May 31 at the Didion Milling corn mill and ethanol plant in Cambria, Wisconsin, killed three workers and injured 13. Local authorities said that 16 staff had been in the plant at the time of the explosion, and that some of the injured had serious burn injuries.

The cause of the blast at the Didion Milling Plant in the community of about 770 people 47 miles northeast of Madison, the state capital, remains unknown. Investigators from the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) arrived on the scene Thursday to begin an investigation into the blast.

A smaller fire occurred in a different part of the mill earlier in the week and investigators will look into whether there is a link between that fire and the explosion.

Didion employs approximately 227 workers in Cambria and at other facilities in nearby counties. The company announced on its web site that the plant would be closed until further notice. Local media said that buildings were damaged in the incident.

In January 2011 the company was cited by OSHA for exposing workers to excessive amounts of dust and for failing to install systems to protect the workers against the risk of a dust explosion, a particular hazard in grain mills and silos. OSHA found that six filters placed in the plant to collect dust were not equipped with systems to protect against explosions and the conveyor systems transporting corn grain were not correctly ducted to adequately diminish airborne particulate matter.

Didion was instructed to fix the cited problems by April, 2011 and OSHA closed the case in September 2013 after the company paid a fine of $3,465. The company received no further OSHA citations thereafter.

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