Radford ammo plant officials report on changes made in wake of 2019 fire

Officials at the Radford Army Ammunition Plant say they have made both operational and procedural changes following a June 2019 fire.

In a regularly scheduled public information meeting held Thursday, July 9, the cause of the fire was listed as overheated material that ignited when an operator pulled it out of the plant’s mixer.

The operator sustained minor burns and was treated and released from a local hospital after the incident.

RAAP officials said employee training has been put into place to recognize the variables that contributed to the fire. Maintenance procedures were also modified to reduce the risk of propellant heating, and additional safety zones were implemented to increase employee protection. If those conditions are discovered again, all production would be stopped.

No other incidents have been reported since the plant has taken the new procedures.

Plant Commander Lt. Col. Anthony Kazor spoke during the meeting provided to the public on Facebook. He said the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way the facility operates on a daily basis, but it has not slowed down production in any way.

“We’re doing everything we can to make it a safe environment for our employees in the midst of this pandemic and to protect our workforce,” he said.

RAAP security also reported on an incident on the New River that runs through the plant.  According to reports, three kayakers were paddling down the river on July 3 when one capsized.

The empty kayak was spotted by a security guard, who alerted others to the incident. All three individuals were pulled safely from the water and transported back to their vehicle.