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Smithfield plant up and running next week

September 9, 2016

Photo by Casey Mendoza, Courtesy of Gatehouse Media

The Courier has learned that electrical testing took place at Smithfield Foods on Thursday and was deemed ready to return to full operations. After a grease fire broke out in Smithfield’s Rendering Department Monday, the plant recovered quickly from this unexpected event. There is an ongoing investigation with the Illinois fire marshal; a standard procedure in large-scale fires. Results are yet to be released from the fire marshal’s investigation concluding the cause of the grease fire.

In the rendering process, fat is separated from the meat, producing grease. The grease is stored in large tanks at the plant, which is where part of the fire was concentrated. In an article in the Review Atlas the Monmouth Fire Chief Casey Rexroat explained the reoccurring flare-ups they battled early Tuesday morning. After attempting to put the grease fire out 10 times, they eventually decided to let the grease in the tank burn off.

Directly behind the Rendering Department is the cold storage unit, which is where the ammonia tanks are located. The two departments are connected by a flash freeze unit, which caused safety concerns.

“Ammonia leaks are always a concern with a large fire,” explained Lowell Crow, City Administrator.” As standard precaution, the ammonia tanks were drained due to proximity to the fire so it was not an issue.”

Thursday, September 8, the facility was on a limited production schedule. With a successful electrical test the facility is able to bounce back quickly and employees are able to return to work today just days after the fire.

This statement was released by Kathleen Kirkham, Director of Corporate Communications, “The company would like to express its sincere appreciation to the employees and contractors who were instrumental in efficiently restoring the plant back to full capacity.”

Miranda Jones
Co-Editor in Chief

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