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Explosion Destroys Meat Plant

Three explosions destroy the country’s sole Slim Jim production factory.

From the Minneapolis Business Journal.

“The explosion that rocked a ConAgra plant in Garner killed two people, with a third still missing.

Police officials in Garner, N.C. on Wednesday released the name of one of the victims – ConAgra employee Barbara McLean Spears. Urban search and rescue teams were still working to unearth the other body found in the rubble of the ConAgra building where the explosion occurred. The search continues for a third employee who has yet to be accounted for.

A total of 38 ConAgra employees were taken to area hospitals, with four of them listed in critical condition at the North Carolina JayceeBurn Center in Chapel Hill.

A cause of the explosion, which blew three holes in the roof of the building and toppled a wall, has not been determined. ConAgra Spokesman Dave Jackson says the company has sent a team of people to the plant to work with investigators in determining the cause.

Jackson says the plant will not reopen until a safe environment can be guaranteed.

The Garner plant manufactures Slim Jim snacks, one of the brands managed by ConAgra’s Edina, Minn.-based Snack Foods Group. The 150-person Edina office also handles ConAgra’s Orville Redenbacher’s popcorn and David sunflower seeds, according to ConAgra’s Web site.

The Garner plant is the only facility in the United States that makes Slim Jims. The company has an inventory of Slim Jims off site, so ConAgra does not expect there to be a supply disruption. Jackson did not know how large a supply of Slim Jims were available.

An employee of the company text-messaged that at least three different explosions occurred. Authorities closed Jones Sausage Road between Interstate 40 and Old Garner Road as emergency crews worked to contain the chemical leak and evacuate workers. Family members of ConAgra employees and workers who were not injured were reunited at the Garner Senior Center because the workers were not able to move their vehicles from the plant site.

About 300 workers were at the plant when the explosion occurred at about 11:30 a.m.

A spokesman for the North Carolina Department of Labor says the facility was inspected seven times between 2006 and 2009 for health and safety violations. The last inspection was July 29, 2008, in response to a health complaint. No violations were found. The last violation was found in April 2007. ConAgra was fined $625 for safety equipment violations.”

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