Didion Explosion One Year Later

(Cambria) Thursday marks one year since the fatal explosion at the Didion Milling plant in Cambria. Five people were killed and 14 injured in the May 31, 2017 blast. The incident resulted in a $1.8-million dollar fine handed down by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration; Didion is appealing. OSHA determined that the company failed to correct the leakage and accumulation of combustible grain dust and also failed to properly maintain equipment to control ignition sources. The findings reflect an investigative update report released last month by US Chemical Safety Board, which does not levy fines but instead seeks to improve conditions to avoid repeated incidents. The report indicates that approximately 15 to 30 minutes before the deadly explosion, workers saw or smelled smoke coming from what is called a gap mill, which grinds corn into smaller pieces through a process known as mechanical impact grinding. Upon inspection, workers witnessed an air filter from the intake line blow off, releasing corn product and flames into the air, followed by multiple explosions throughout the facility. In response, Didion pledged to continue to work cooperatively with the Chemical Safety Board and other agencies to maintain and enhance safety, which they called their highest priority. Didion, meanwhile, is working on construction of a new state-of-the-art corn mill, which they say will feature the latest technology and most effective and safe operational systems available.