How grain silo explosions occur - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

VIDEO: How grain silo explosions occur

Bunge Limited grain silo in Evendale. Photo via viewer Brian Kemme. Bunge Limited grain silo in Evendale. Photo via viewer Brian Kemme.
EVENDALE, OH (FOX19) -

The explosion at the Bunge North America grain silo in Evendale on Friday may have been the first time many Cincinnatians heard of a grain silo. However, these buildings are dangerous work zones for many reasons, with the potential for catastrophic and fatal explosions.

Grain silos, also known as grain elevators, are used to store grains after farmers have harvested them until they are sold.

These silos are brimming with grain dust which is highly combustible. If the grain dust becomes airborne or accumulates on a surface and finds a heated ignition source, such as an electrical outlet, it can explode.

When a spark ignites the dust - known as the initial explosion - oxygen mixing in will cause secondary explosion, like a fireball, as was reported at the Bunge North America silo.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports there have been 503 grain silo explosions since 1976, resulting in 677 injuries and 184 fatalities.

OSHA standards, updated in 2011 following a rash of incidents involving grain silos across the country, require that both grain dust and ignition sources must be controlled in grain elevators to prevent these often deadly explosions.

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