Monsanto plant explosion causes evacuations

By Hailey Kurth

Witnesses reported seeing flames more than 100 feet in the air Tuesday after a gas leak/explosion at the Waterman Monsanto plant.

At 10:30 a.m., a crew struck an electrical line while digging and electricity jumped to a gas line, causing it to combust, a press release stated. Those at the nearby Indian Creek Middle School could reportedly hear a low rumble and boom.

The Monsanto plant, surrounding neighborhood and the middle school were evacuated. The press release stated residents were able to evacuate to the Waterman Village Hall.

“Not many people took advantage of evacuating to Village Hall,” said Waterman Police Patrolman Jason Swanson. “Many residents stayed at a safe distance and watched.”

Swanson said middle school students moved west to the nearby Lions Park until given the OK to return to school. Buses were on hand in case students needed to be sent home, but the problem was resolved before it became necessary, Swanson said.

Nicor shut off the gas to the plant and emergency services cleared the scene shortly after noon.

Swanson said Monsanto workers have returned to the factory and have started to repair any problems.