UNION MILLS, IND. — A Co-Alliance L.L.P. grain storage bin in Union Mills exploded June 24, resulting in a fatality. Co-Alliance, an Avon, Ind.-based farmer-owned supply and marketing cooperative, operates a grain marketing service at Union Mills and also offers agronomy services and markets power fuels and propane in the vicinity. Union Mills is 50 miles southeast of Chicago and has multiple grain and fertilizer storage facilities on site.

According to the La Porte County Sheriff’s Office, the explosion occurred and was limited to a concrete grain silo that is adjacent to a railroad spur on the grounds of the co-op.

“No hazardous chemicals were involved or released as a result of the explosion and it is not believed that a fire was involved,” the sheriff’s department said. “The cause of the explosion is not yet known and it was believed that the victim, who is a La Porte County Co-Op employee, was working in the silo at the time of the explosion.”

Killed in the accident was James Swank, 67, who had worked at the facility for seven years.

“This is a profound loss for our co-op family,” said Kevin Still, chief executive officer of Co-Alliance. “Our thoughts and prayers are with James and his family during this very difficult time.”

Co-Alliance said that although investigations are still on-going, the focus for the cause is centered on grain dust ignition.