Coal silo implosion causes uproar across counties - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Coal silo implosion causes uproar across counties

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SESSER, Ill. -- A loud boom that shook homes and worried dozens of neighbors in Jefferson County Tuesday afternoon was explosives being set off to bring down an old coal silo. 

The planned implosion was heard for more than 30 miles across southern Illinois and was supposed to demolish the old equipment at the coal mine between Sesser and Waltonville. 

Residents weren't the only ones who were surprised by the loud boom; law enforcement agencies were not prepared either. 

Jefferson County Sheriff Travis Allen was at home when the walls shook and he heard a loud noise like thunder. 

"People realized they were hearing it in Sesser, they were hearing it up to Wayne City, over to the north side of Mount Vernon, a huge area," Allen said. "I think that kind of alerted people more than anything because what kind of boom could carry that type of distance."

The loud noise came from a retired coal mine near Sesser just after 4 p.m. on Tuesday. The commotion sent News 3's phones ringing off the hook and flooded our Facebook page. People continued to ask what caused their house to shake and what was that sound. 

Sheriff Allen was one of many law enforcement officials also concerned by the noise. 

"Immediately I called dispatch to see what kind of calls were coming in," Allen said. "The only calls were ones claiming that they heard a boom and wanted to know what it was but there was absolutely no information."

George Spotanski is a farmer next to the retired coal mine off of Route 148. He has been a neighbor of the mine for more than 80 years. 

"It was Inland Steel when I was just a boy," Spotanski said. 

Spotanski says Tuesday wasn't the first loud boom coming from Murray's Energy, who owns the property. He says last week there were two other loud noises coming from the area, causing a lot of dust. 

"I  knew what was going on and that's the reason I came up here," Spotanski said. "I wanted to see if they finally got it down."

Multiple emergency agencies across the area were blindsided just like residents, and that is a concern for Sheriff Allen. 

"I am pretty upset about this," Allen said. "I mean it's their business and I understand that. I am not the dynamite expert and you don't need approval from the sheriff's office to implode something, but a simple hey we are going to set off a bomb in your county today that's going to alert thousands of people, wold have been some nice information to have."

News 3 reached out to Murray Energy Tuesday night was told by a spokesperson they would be in contact on Wednesday. 

There are still four other silos left on the property and a security guard says they have to come down too but at this time there is no word when they will come down. 

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