(WICHITA, Kan.) — Despite October's deadly grain elevator explosion in Atchinson, Kansas experts say the structures are the safest they have ever been.
But grain elevators are dangerous by design. Fine, highly combustible dust flows freely through the buildings. The spark from equipment or an overheated bearing could ignite it.
In the 1970's there were an average of 25 grain explosions each year. That's dropped to fewer than 9 between 2001 and 2005.
Experts say the key to reducing the number of explosions has been following a few simple rules, like no welding while grain is being moved, and to make sure machines are well-oiled.