The Sutherly family owns Miami Valley Feed and Grain in New Carlisle where a grain tank collapsed late on Jan. 21, spilling around 365,000 bushels of corn worth over $1.25 million. The wave of corn knocked out power and buried State Route 571. Sam Sutherly was kind enough to offer an update on the progress since the spill.
OCJ: What is the status of the cleanup effort?
Sam: The corn was cleared off of the road on Wednesday, Jan. 24, but State Route 571 remains closed by the City of New Carlisle. They decided that it would be easier for the utility companies (AT&T and Dayton Power & Light) to reset the utility poles without the normal flow of traffic. With the extra days, the machinery and semis had better access to the corn nearest to the road. The corn is being loaded quickly and safely to be shipped. The road is supposed to officially open for public use on Jan. 31.
OCJ: What is being done with salvageable corn?
Sam: The corn was evaluated by potential bidders and buyers. Several company reps were in taking samples and they submitted bids to the salvage company. We had visitors from many states. Once the company was selected, they started to move corn on Friday, Jan. 26. They will continue hauling until the facility is cleaned up.
OCJ: What is being done with the unsalvageable corn?
Sam: Fortunately, there will be very little that is considered unsalvageable. The corn around the transformer was carefully removed and disposed of, but that was it. Screening machines are on site to remove foreign material, mainly gravel, concrete, and metal. The corn will be screened before it’s loaded into the semis.
OCJ: What is the timeline moving forward?
Sam: Our grain facility will remain closed until the grounds are cleared and we can evaluate the silos and access any other damage. It will be a while for permanent buildings, but our mobile office will be arriving soon. A friend loaned a bulk truck to us and we anticipate starting on-farm bulk deliveries the week of Jan. 29.
The timeline is to reopen our feed mill immediately. We spent the last couple days cleaning out the seed warehouse and a temporary generator was installed to run the feed mill. On Friday, we started filling the first bags. We’ve ordered from our other suppliers and inventory is growing. It won’t be a drive-thru, but we’ll start servicing our customers with bagged feed on Monday, Jan. 29.
OCJ: Has a cause for the tank failure been determined?
Sam: The bin failure has not been determined yet, but engineers have been onsite. It might be a while before we have any news.
OCJ: How has safety been handled during the cleanup effort?
Sam: A major unknown from that night was the traffic on 571. It wasn’t until the last bucket of corn was loaded off of the road that we felt relief to know that no car or no one was under that mound of corn. Safety is still our number one concern. For the safety of the residents of New Carlisle, as well as our employees and crews, we’ve installed fencing and hired security to prevent climbing on the corn piles and trespassing.