Corpus Christi, TX Grain Elevator Blast, Apr 1981
TWO STILL MISSING IN GRAIN BLASTS.
Corpus Christi, Texas (UPI) -- Searchers dug through a shattered grain elevator complex for two men still missing in a series of unexplained explosions that killed at least four people and injured 33 others.
Officials admitted the cause of the Tuesday blasts at the Producers Grain Co-Op of Corpus Christi facility might never be determined and total damage and lost revenues might exceed $130 million.
Firefighters in a cherry-picker spotted the fourth body late Wednesday on a catwalk suspended more than 60 feet in the air. The victim, identified as PEDRO DELGADILLO, 56, was burned beyond recognition from the blast.
RAMON GARCIA, 43, and GILBERT GARCIA, 19, both of Corpus Christi were unaccounted for in the explosions, which damaged up to 75 per cent of the sprawling grain elevator complex on the Corpus Christi waterfront.
One survivor says he is hesitant to return to work in a grain storage facility again.
"Right at this minute, I'm not too fond of the idea."
JUDD SCOTT, a federal commodities technician, said. "It's too much hurt, pain and death for what little pay we get."
SCOTT, 25, of Corpus Christi, was one of seven federal grain inspectors injured in the blasts and he was hospitalized with burns and a fractured skull.
Port Authority engineering officials said they had hired outside experts to investigate the blasts but
"we're not positive they'll ever come up with a cause."
The comment contradicted earlier speculation by fire and port officials that a spark from some type of machinery caused the blasts.
A special four-man team from the National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Department of Agriculture has begun in independent investigation of the elevator blast, said Karen Warlick, a U.S. Grain Inspection Service spokeswoman.
Federal Occupational and Safety Administration officials said they could not conduct an investigation into the blast unless specifically requested by Port Authority officials. An OSHA spokesman said the federal safety agency did not have jurisdiction over most public facilities, only private work places.
The port's engineering director, Nolan Rhodes, said he would "welcome" an OSHA investigation, but would not ask OSHA to intervene.
Nueces County officials said farmers would not be able to unload their sorghum crops at the elevator and the expected revenue loss would exceed $100 million. Actual physical plant loss would exceed $30 million, officials said.
Officials said the facility was insured, which would cover all but about $100,000 of the damage because of a deductibility clause in the insurance contract.
Logansport Pharos-Tribune Indiana 1981-04-09