The corporate response by ConAgra was rapid and beneficial to both victims and unaffected employees following the natural gas explosion at the Garner, N.C. plant on June 9. The explosion left three dead, four critically injured and as many as 25 others requiring hospitalization or other treatment.
CEO Gary Rotkin and a team of engineers flew to Raleigh the following day to assist with the response and relief efforts. ConAgra immediately expressed its sympathy to the families of the bereaved, pledged support for the injured and was open and forthcoming in media contacts. ConAgra agreed to continue paying the wages of as many as 900 workers displaced by the explosion, paid funeral expenses and established a $100,000 fund for immediate relief.
Initial investigation attributed the explosion to accumulation of natural gas following plant repairs. State records disclosed either an absence of serious violations or the presence of minor technical issues during inspections over the past few years. The fact that the plant was evacuated within a short time despite extensive structural damage and that with the exception of one dead worker, everyone was accounted for within 12 hours, suggests a well-managed plant with contingency plans for a disaster.
No collateral damage occurred despite the release of ammonia. Injured workers were triaged on site and assigned to specific area hospitals based on the nature of their injuries. The most seriously affected are undergoing treatment at the UNC Burn Center which has advanced staff and facilities to treat industrial accidents.