Officials: Deadly Wisconsin Milling Company Blast Preventable

FILE – In this June 1, 2017 file photo, part of the Didion Milling Plant lies in ruins following a May 31, 2017, explosion in Cambria, Wis. Federal labor officials say the Wisconsin milling company should pay $1.8 million in fines for failing to prevent the fatal explosion. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a news release Friday, Nov. 17, saying that an accumulation of highly combustible grain dust likely caused the explosion. OSHA officials said the explosion was preventable. (John Hart/Wisconsin State Journal via AP File)

November 18, 2017
OAN Newsroom

Federal officials propose fining a Wisconsin milling company $1.8 Million dollars after an explosion left five employees dead.

In a statement on Friday, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said the blast at the Didion Milling Co. corn processing plant in Cambria was preventable. The agency issued 19 citations against the company, including failure to maintain equipment and failure to provide employees with adequate safety gear.

The agency found an accumulation of combustible grain dust, which they say was likely the cause of the explosion, which happened on May 31, 2017. Representatives for the family-owned business, however, have since condemned the severity of the penalties.

The milling company has 15 days to pay the fine or to contest the findings.

  • ElKabong453

    The dust in your home wood shop can be an explosion hazard as well. The solution to the problem is the same,just on a smaller scale–cyclonic dust evacuators. Atomized dust, whether from corn meal, wheat meal or saw dust, can explode violently any time it is exposed to an open flame or even a small spark. I’m sure the folks at this mill were well aware of that and should have taken precautions against it. If they did, the installers or manufacturers of the dust removal system should be liable. If not, the mill owners should pay.

  • Kelly Hardy

    If they were union that pretty much explains it all

  • lraivala

    Every accident that has ever happened is avoidable. This is no different than any other accident known to man, it is always easier to monday morning quarterback a game and win, then it is to play the game when it is going.

  • randrat

    Call me a hick, but how does taking $1.8 M out of the company treasury ( that could go toward improving dust collection and improved cleaning methods/equipment plant-wide ) by the Feds “fix” anything ? Grain elevator explosions ( due mostly to dust and chaff particle levels ) have long plagued the ag industry. They’re a “universal hazard ” that can as easily strike in a farmer’s grain bin(s) as in a huge elevator storage complex. Seeking and prosecuting responsible persons and supervisor and/or managers whose activity and involvement ( or lack thereof ) I can understand. This “company-wide” fine strikes me as laziness on the part of OSHA investigators and federal prosecutors .

    • Ed L

      Hanging sounds good

  • Mr. Maga

    9-11 was “preventable” but i don’t see them handing every person boarding a plane a gun…. sometimes, things happen. and if you think you can control “combustible dust” in this environment, then you’ve never worked in one.

  • Ed L

    Over 19 citations filed against that company prior to the blast. I say criminal Neglect. Arrest warrants need to be issue and owners and upper management be arrested

    • Zotus

      And what if the cause was lazy employees not following proper procedures. Management can put proper procedures in place but generally aren’t part of the production process relying on supervisors and employees to be following procedures. I see it daily, lazy employees cutting corners if somebody isn’t watching them 24/7.

      • Ed L

        Responsibly and Accountability falls on the leadership. When Leadership fails in their responsibility them failure is inevitable. And in addition those under leadership who fail to comply with mandatory standard operating procedures also need to be jailed. As for punishment a good flogging (2 to 4 dozen lashes) and or hanging is in order

  • All American

    Didn’t they have a safety leader in this ethanol plant?

    • Robert Adams

      This plant was producing corn food products.

      • All American

        Didion Milling Plan, Cambria, Wisconsin
        Corporate Offices
        520 Hartwig Blvd.
        PO Box 400
        Johnson Creek, WI 53038
        Phone 920.348.6783
        Fax 920.699.3628

        map and directions Ethanol Plant
        N7088 S. Hwy 146
        PO Box 495
        Cambria, WI 53923
        Phone 920.348.6783
        Fax 920.348.6203

        map and directions
        Oil Packaging Plant
        N1881 County Road A
        PO Box 168
        Markesan, WI 53946
        Phone 920.348.6783

        map and directions Soybean Processing Plant
        210 Grell Lane
        PO Box 400

        • Robert Adams

          Look up the products produced at Cambria.

  • Luciano Salerno

    A mistake with a tragic chain reaction:
    5 lives + loved ones pain + $1.8M fine + upcoming lawsuits + possible bankruptcy + unemployed workers + distressed families + etc. 🙁

    • All American

      Very sad and likely could have been avoided?

  • landy fincannon

    Will the fine go to the families? I’m sure we no the answer to that.

    • Brad

      Fines will not go to families, however with the investigation done now the hord of civil attorneys will move in an commence striping the bones of what little meat there is left and the company that once was will no longer be a threat.

      • All American

        Yup Intentional Tort

    • Farmerob

      And it won’t go to making this mill any safer either, all the big fines the gov. hit the banks with and their worse now than they were before.

      • All American

        Likely to close

  • Mel Carbon

    There is no excuse for an “accident” like this!

    • All American


    • Zotus

      There is always an excuse or reason. The only question is whether it’s a good one. Combustable dust explosions occur routinely. Sure there are steps to reduce risks but procedures are only as good as those who follow them. The plant I work in has two types of employees those who follow procedures to the letter regardless how unnecessary we think it to be and those who avoid any extra work they feel is unneccesary or can get away with not doing. Supervisors have the same categories so good ones check up and make sure procedures are being followed bad ones are rarely seen. Management generally don’t have a clue and are never seen on the floor and if they are of course employees will follow proper procedures when the boss is hovering around. Production is typically the priority.