Omaha Plant Explosion: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

omaha plant explosion

via Omaha Police Department

A collapse at an animal feed plant in south-central Omaha has killed two, with roughly a dozen workers still trapped inside. Here’s what we know about the Disaster at the International Nutrition plant:

1. All Those Still Inside Are Believed to be Dead

Omaha Plant explosion

via Omaha PD

Interim Fire Chief Bernard Kanger told that 38 workers were in the plant at the time of the accident. 10 were entered into area hospitals earlier today. 15 were believed to still be trapped in the facility, however a tweet from local reporter Alissa Skelton suggests that all those who have not already made it out are thought to be dead:

One of the injured was taken in critical condition, and is believed to be suffering from hypothemia, having been submerged in cold water after being struck by a falling object.

2. The Cause of the Explosion Remains Unknown

Firefighters aren’t sure what caused the accident. At this time it is not clear whether there was actually an explosion or merely a structural collapse. Kanger says they had found no hazardous chemicals on the premises.

3. Workers Loved Ones Gathered Outside the Plant

A flurry of workers were released from the building around 1p.m. local time. Among them was Nate Lewis, a 21-year-old production line worker, who told reporter Erin Golden that the building caved in from the third floor. He described the room going pitch black, his clothes being drenched by overhead sprinklers.

Golden caught Mary Brown embracing her son Jake Wolfe, 25:

Kari Cook fought through tears as she told of a text her 53-year-old shift supervisor boyfriend John Broderick sent her at 10:09 this morning: “Major accident. I’m hurt and trapped. Love you.”

Cook asked if he were joking, then demanded a response, texting: “Honey, answer me.”

She’s yet to receive a reply.

Sarah White got a call from her husband Jamar, telling her that he was alright. White was exiting the plant to complete a routine check of the trucks outside when the building exploded. He sprinted at least 150 feet with fire at his back. He told his wife when he turned around, the building was gone:

“It was terrible. I could see a couple of my coworkers screaming for help.”

Sarah had raced to the plant in her pajamas when she heard the news, and was overcome by gratitude to see Jamar standing outside.

4. This is Not the First Accident at the Plant

Omaha Plant Explosion

Screenshot via KMTV

In 2002, a 45-year-old worker at the plant was crushed to death by a mixing a machine. At that time the company was fined $13,600 by OSHA for five “serious” workplace safety violations. You can read the full Osha report below:

5. OSHA Considers Grain Handling a High Hazard Industry

omaha plant explosion

This is in part because grain dust is highly combustible. Osha has recorded 500 grain handling explosions in the last 35 years, resulting in more than 180 deaths and 675 injuries.