Tyson's Storm Lake processing plant re-opens

by Erica Shaffer
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SPRINGDALE, Ark. – A temporary loss became an opportunity for Tyson Foods Inc. to give back.

The company held a grand re-opening of its Storm Lake, Iowa turkey-processing plant, which was severely damaged by fire in March. A welding accident ignited a fire in the dark-meat room of the facility that was formerly part of Hillshire Brands. A section of the plant's roof collapsed while the rest of the facility sustained heavy fire and smoke damage. Damages were estimated at more than $30 million. No employees were injured, and Tyson idled the plant for eight months while the facility underwent repairs.

"Thankfully, there were no injuries in the fire, but damage to the plant was extensive and portions required major renovations before it could safely operate," said Ray Team, who oversees the Storm Lake operations. "Storm Lake first responders did a great job helping us the day of the fire, and we're grateful for their efforts. We also received an outpouring of support and offers of help from others in the community."

As a gesture of gratitude, Tyson Foods presented a check for $5,400 to the Storm Lake Fire Department to purchase equipment.

The turkey plant became part of Tyson Foods following the company's acquisition of The Hillshire Brands Company. Tyson also owns and operates a pork plant in Storm Lake. The turkey plant is partially open for business, Tyson said.

The turkey's white-meat processing area is up and running; the dark meat operations are expected to resume in January. Community dignitaries, including Storm Lake Mayor Jon Kruse, briefly toured the remodeled facility, which resumed production in late November. Approximately 700 individuals will work at the plant when it returns to full production, the company said. The pork processing plant employs more than 1,900 workers.
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