Three workers were injured when a flash fire broke out at a BAE Systems-managed government ammunition plant in Radford, Virginia, Monday, June 12.
According to the Associated Press, the workplace accident occurred at the Radford Army Ammunition Plant, also known as the Radford Arsenal, which serves as the main ammunition and explosives manufacturing facility for the U.S. Department of Defense.
The sprawling facility, which occupies thousands of acres in southwestern Virginia, is owned by the U.S. government but is operated by major defense contractor BAE Systems.
Plant official Charles Saks told Roanoke, Virginia’s WDBJ Channel 7 that “nitrocellulose material in the drying process combusted and caused a flash fire,” around 7:30 p.m. Monday evening.
The three injured plant workers were identified by WDBJ7 as Travis Mitchell, David Goad, and Dakota Grimmett. All three were taken to a North Carolina hospital for treatment. Mr. Goad and Mr. Dakota are reported to be in critical condition, according to WDBJ7. Mr. Mitchell is said to be in good condition.
The Associated Press reported that a BAE Systems spokesman said the plant has suspended production until the facility is inspected and will resume operations after the facilities have been deemed safe for workers.
According to local reports, the fire broke out at the BAE plant about 7:30 p.m. Monday and was contained by 8:11 p.m.
In March, The Roanoke Times reported that the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality listed the Radford Army Ammunition Plant as the biggest polluter in the state. According to the state’s environmental report, the BAE-operated facility produced 12.1 million tons of toxic release inventory chemicals consisting mainly of nitrates.
Toxic releases from the plant accounted for more than a third of all on-site chemical releases from manufacturing facilities statewide.