As a nation, we find ourselves in somewhat relative peace. Yes, we’re still losing men in the Middle East, but compared to most other times in this century, we’re at peacetime. Even the military has apparently shifted more to a peacetime footing. It sounds like it’s the kind of time when everything in the military draws down a good bit.
The US Army’s Holston Army Ammunition Plant in Kingsport, Tennessee is looking to expand its already massive facility. Run by BAE Systems and US Army Materiel Command, the Holston Ammunition Plant, originally established during World War Two, already currently covers 6,020 acres and spans across two counties in Tennessee.
BAE Systems’ site describes Holston as a major supplier of explosive materials to the U.S. Department of Defense with a focus on safer innovative ‘insensitive munitions‘. The plant is also part of the DoD’s Armament Retooling and Manufacturing Support program, which rents out site space to private companies.
A spokesperson from BAE Systems has reportedly told a local TV news channel, WJHL-TV News Channel 11, that the company has submitted requests for construction permits from the state for an expansion of the plant. News Channel 11 reported that the Tennessee State Department of Environment & Conservation, Division of Air Pollution Control has published a notice informing local residents that BAE ‘has applied for approval to construct and operate new emission sources like new natural gas and oil-fired boilers and emergency engines.’
BAE states that this expansion is part of an ongoing effort to modernize the facility.
While this may well mean more jobs at the facility, some in the area are less than pleased at the idea of the massive plant growing. They cite a number of concerns, but one of the big ones was the discovery of RDX, an explosive compound, found in the nearby river. The facility is now working on a plan to reduce RDX levels in the river by 2020.
The state has to decide whether to grant permission for the expansion or not. They’re holding a public hearing on the matter on September 20th where people in the community can voice their concerns.
To be sure, RDX can be some pretty nasty stuff. It’s been used since World War II but is still in use today as one of the components in the plastic explosive Semtex. It’s not something I’d particularly want in my water, so I get people’s concerns on that front. But I also wonder how much stuff ends up in the river from the Eastman Chemical Plant that’s also located in Kingsport. Maybe it’s nothing, but…
Frankly, as I don’t live in the area, I have no opinion at all on the expansion. If it does go through, it’ll be an economic boon to the area, at least to some degree. If it doesn’t, then that money will go to benefit some other community, perhaps one that’s in more need of the economic boost.
If you’re in the area and have an opinion, make sure your voice is heard, though.