A preliminary inspection at the site of Wednesday’s ammunition plant explosion in Tennessee reveals no signs of foul play.
Agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives believe a deadly explosion at an ammunition plant outside of McEwen was most likely an accident.
The explosion at Rio Ammunition killed one person and left three others injured on Wednesday afternoon.
The ATF National Response Team will begin to process the scene Friday to determine origin and cause of the blast, but agents said a preliminary inspection of the site did not indicate any foul play.
“We’ve done quite a few interviews, we have some leads that are going to help us, I don’t think anyone has any indication at this time that there was any type of criminal act here. It was, it looks like it is something that happened as part of, what we’re trying to find out, like an accident. We don’t think there was any intentional criminal act in any way,” said ATF Assistant Special Agent Jack Webb.
The explosion killed Rio Ammunition employee Rodney Edwards and severely injured Joey Clark, who remains in Vanderbilt University Medical Center in stable condition. A third employee injured in the explosion, Sheila Edwards, was treated and released.
Heavy equipment is being brought in to stabilize the building so that a more detailed investigation can be conducted to attempt to determine the exact cause of the explosion, which occurred in a cartridge loading area during loading operations.
It’s entirely an informed guess at this point, but it seems probable that there was either a process or equipment failure involving propellant handling that set off the explosion.
OSHA had never inspected the plant prior to the explosion as there have never been any complaints, nor had it come up yet for routine inspection.
Rio Ammunition produces game, target, and military and law enforcement shotgun ammunition at the McEwen facility. There is no word on when the facility may reopen, but as the photos above indicate, there was severe structural damage and it may be some time before production resumes once the investigation is complete.
Image credits: Local news and ATF.