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A year after explosion, fire

By Staff | Sep 11, 2009

The Alton grain terminal has been rebuilt after a 2008 explosion and fire. The new facility is being prepared for the 2009 harvest.

ALTON -Although not exactly like the Phoenix of Greek mythology rising from the ashes, the Midwest Farmers’ Elevator in this southeast Sioux County community has risen from the rubble and is being prepared for receiving 2009 harvest grain, by new owners Ag Partners LLC.

Younglove Construction LLC, of Sioux City, took on the rebuilding project at a cost of just over $8 million, said Bill Lyster, the elevator’s special projects manager, with $7 million covered by insurance and the balance in facility upgrades and safety improvements.

Producers, Lyster said, will “benefit from the access to markets and the speed in which they can unload crops.”

A public open house showing the new facility and upgrades event was held one year to the date of the 2008 explosion and fire. Lyster stated that those attending the July 9 event were impressed with the facility and improvements made.

The facility now boasts of storage capabilities of up to 5 million bushels of grain and capable of dumping three different commodities at once with an unload capacity of up to 50,000 bushels an hour.

A pair of receiving pits allow for semis to dump in a single spot without having to move.

Railroad cars can be loaded at a rate of 11 cars in a single hour, Lyster said.

The facility will also allow producers access to the West Coast markets and thus better marketing opportunities.

The 2008 explosion caused only one minor injury, but safety features for both the employees and customers where seriously considered, Lyster said.

A hazard monitoring system was installed in all equipment in the new facility, he explained. This system monitors not only speed and alignment, but also the temperatures of bearings. An overheated bearing was determined to have started the2008 fire.

Explosion relief panels have also been installed in all bucket elevators.

New bin sweeps allow for bins to be emptied without having employees on the inside, Lyster said.

Dust control systems have also been implemented.

Computer-based operating systems allow for managers to make maintenance and grain-handling decisions according to computer reports.

The AP management team consists of Troy Upah, CEO., Fran Marron, grain team leader; Lyster, Scott Dettmann, agronomy team teader; Scott Lovin, feed team leader; Brent Low, sales and marketing team leader; Dan De ong, Western business manager; Jeff Hanks, Eastern business manager.

Contact Robyn Kruger by e-mail at rangerob@hickorytech.net.

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