No charges in Atchison's 2011 deadly grain elevator explosion

Published: Nov. 10, 2016 at 4:14 PM CST
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The U.S. Attorney for Kansas says he’s not going to file charges against the company of an Atchison grain elevator that exploded in 2011 that killed six.

On Thursday, Tom Beall announced they are closing the inquiry, saying there is not sufficient evidence to support criminal charges against the owner, Bartlett Grain Company.

Family members of those killed say more could have been done.

"I'm satisfied that they tried.” said Kevin Boch whose son, Chad Roberts, was killed in the explosion. “I think they did take it down to the wire, trying to find something. But I still believe it's there."

Boch showed photos illustrating what they believe were safety hazards at the plant. One photo shows the elevator's office, with shredded papers and other flammable materials strewn about, next to space heaters and starter fluid. Another photo showed fire safety shelves with their doors wide open, rather than closed.

"This is where you're supposed to store flammable materials - and they're open. In a grain elevator - in a highly explosive area," Boch said.

Beall says though the U.S. Attorney’s office has closed the case, it does not dismiss any investigation or enforcement actions by OSHA.

In 2012, OSHA cited Bartlett Grain with five willful and eight serious safety violations in connection with the explosion, including allowing grain dust to accumulate and using electrical equipment inappropriate for the working environment.

The families are pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit against Bartlett. Among its claims are that employees did not have proper training and the company did not have an adequate alarm system.

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