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No Charges to be Filed in Kansas Grain Elevator Explosion

November 10, 2016
A Bartlett Grain Co. grain elevator near Kansas City, KS. Image courtesy of Flickr user mrtickles
A Bartlett Grain Co. grain elevator near Kansas City, KS. Image courtesy of Flickr user mrtickles

No criminal charges will be filed against Bartlett Grain Co., the owner of a grain elevator in Atchison, KS that exploded in 2011 killing 6 and injuring 2, the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Kansas announced Thursday.

“Based on information known to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, we have closed our inquiry,” a statement by U.S. Attorney Tom Beall stated. “We have determined there is not sufficient evidence to support criminal charges against the owner.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said that the announcement does not mean that the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will dismiss pending enforcement actions.

A year following the explosion, OSHA asked the DOJ to pursue criminal charges against Bartlett, according to a report by the Kansas City Star, which the company said were unfounded.

In April 2012, OSHA cited Bartlett with five willful and eight serious safety violations and proposed $406,000 in fines. The agency’s inspection determined that the company had allowed dangerous accumulations of grain dust, used compressed air to remove dust build ups without shutting down ignition sources, starting and stopping (“jogging”) bucket elevators to free legs hindered by grain, lack of fall protection requirements, and the use of inadequate electrical equipment.

“The deaths of these six workers could have been prevented had the grain elevator’s operators addressed hazards that are well known in this industry,” then Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis said in a statement at the time the citations were issued. “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.”

According to the Kansas City Star, the company has not paid any fines.