Reports indicate that at least eight people suffered injuries – five of them are still being hospitalized for critical injuries – after the plant caught fire and exploded just after 7pm CST on September 10.
"ADM immediately contacted the Decatur Fire Department, which remains on the scene. Several employees were injured and transported to the local hospital for treatment," a spokesperson from the company said.
"Our thoughts are with our colleagues. We do not have a confirmed cause at this time."
We know that the plant in question processed corn and soy, two major commodities whose derivatives are used in all sorts of food products consumed by Americans. Typically, corn and soy are genetically modified (GMO) if grown in the U.S.
This particular ADM plant "crushes soybeans into soybean oil and white flake for soy protein production," according to Reuters.
"An adjacent corn processing plant was also 'temporarily down until we can safely resume operations,'" Reuters added, quoting company officials. As of Sunday night, the day the incident occurred, the cause of the explosion has not been confirmed – check out video footage of the explosion and fires below:
(Related: Check out our earlier coverage about the many other food processing facilities that have mysteriously burned to the ground in recent years.)
The latest information we have is that the East plant of ADM remains inoperative at the current time, as is the adjacent corn processing plant, with no clear indication as to when operations can resume safely.
"Our priority is providing our injured colleagues and their families support," the company added.
"The main fire was extinguished overnight, and we are continuing to closely monitor and assess the extent of the damage to the complex as we investigate the cause of the incident."
As the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) launches its own investigation, the local fire department in Decatur has released a detailed summary of the events that occurred.
The department says it received its first reports about the explosion and subsequent fire at 7:12pm. When the first fire truck arrived, firefighters found several injured workers amid scattered debris over a wide area, as well as a fire burning in a 10-story building.
While other firefighters were still en-route, the battalion chief upgraded the response to a second alarm, which ultimately summoned 33 firefighters to the plant. Numerous buildings at the complex were found by these firefighters to be damaged, including several large pieces of suspended debris that posed a hazard.
There were also several rail cars that initially posed an obstacle to rescue efforts, but firefighters were able to remove those before using two large-caliber fire hoses to pour water on the burning areas in an attempt to keep the fire from spreading.
One engine reportedly used an aerial apparatus while ADM provided a thermal imaging drone to help fire crews assess all the hot spots. Once the exterior fires were contained, crews successfully entered the building and extinguished the remaining fires, which was a very long and slow process due to the extensive damage that was caused.
Media reports state that by 2am, only one firefighting company remained at the scene, and they stayed there until Monday morning to confirm that every last fire had been extinguished.
OSHA will now have six months to complete its investigation into the matter. If it is determined that health and safety regulations were violated, then tickets and fines will be issued.
More related news coverage can be found at Collapse.news.
Sources for this article include: