Thawing ice after fire interrupts Cargill plant ops

by Bryan Salvage
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SCHUYLER, Neb. – Water used to extinguish a Feb. 6 fire that temporarily halted operations at Cargill’s beef-processing plant in Schuyler subsequently caused officials to cut back production on Feb. 10. Water leaked in the plant’s carcass-trimming area from the area where roof damage was thought to have been repaired, according to a Feb. 12 update e-mailed to “It was water that had been used to put out the fire last week,” wrote Mike Martin, spokesman. “It froze in the insulation, and then it began melting when we began operating Monday.”

In the meantime, while no slaughter operations occurred on Feb. 12, two shifts operated as workers processed carcasses that were stored in the plant’s coolers. Plans are to continue processing stored carcasses through Feb. 14.

“We're also producing ground beef, FTB (finely textured beef) and shipping product,” he said. Resumption of slaughtering operations is a day-to-day decision as repairs continue.
“Most of the plant’s more than 2,100 employees will not return to work until all production activities resume,” Martin said. As a result of this situation, plant workers at Cargill facilities in Colorado and Kansas are working more hours to satisfy customer orders.

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