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Grain mound causes frustration, health issues

By Staff | Mar 22, 2019

A pile of grain sitting near the old Tunbridge Elevator is across the driveway from resident Kim Morgan. This was prior to snowfall and removal of salvageable grains.

Directly across from Kim Morgan’s home in Tunbridge is the old Farmers Co-op Elevator.

And a mound of smelly, molding, rotting grain.

According to County Commissioner David Migler, work to remove the mound began Thursday morning.

The mound has been a source of frustration and health problems for Morgan, who began contacting various parties in October 2018 after, she said, Hunter Hanson dumped mounds of grain near the elevator.

Pierce County Sheriff Josh Siegler contacted Hanson. In an email to the Tribune, Siegler said Hanson assured the Sheriff’s Department he was taking steps to clean up the grain.

The grain had not been moved at that time.

“I legally have no authority on that pile,” Hanson said in a Facebook message, “it’s in the hands of the North Dakota PSC. I would have had that pile moved months ago if I was able so [sic].”

Morgan had sent Hanson a message via Facebook requesting removal of the grain.

“He said: ‘I can’t touch it, it’s the public commissioner’s hands,'” said Morgan.

Siegler said the Pierce County State’s Attorney and the North Dakota Department of Health had also been advised on the matter.

Morgan contacted several other parties, including the Public Service Commission and departments within the North Dakota Department of Health after experiencing health problems from breathing in mold spores and not getting better.

“Everybody would keep giving me somebody else’s number, so I kept going step-by-step,” said Morgan.

Siegler said that last week the Public Service Commission advised him that all grain onsite had been seized and steps were being taken to move what is onsite in the future.

Morgan said a potential health risk from exposure to moldy grain can include a condition called “Farmer’s Lung,” an allergy-related disease caused by breathing in dust from moldy hay and crops. The disease can cause shortness of breath and feeling ill, but lengthy exposure to moldy grain can lead to permanent lung damage.

Morgan said her symptoms have persisted for three months.

“We’ve never been sick like this,” Morgan said. “We’re sick every day.”

Hanson purchased the elevator in late 2017, according to Agweek, and it was licensed as a warehouse effective in late June 2018.

In November 2018, the PSC issued a cease-and-desist order against Hanson after receiving complaints regarding bounced checks totaling millions of dollars and yellow pea deliveries.

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