The US Army’s Holston Army Ammunition Plant in Kingsport, Tennessee is looking 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.’
Chris Finley, BAE Systems’ Communications Manager, responded explaining that the work would be part of an ongoing modernisation program of the site that has over 450 buildings and storage magazines. Finley said: “The modernization effort has been deemed necessary to ensure the long-term viability of the Holston Army Ammunition Plant in its strategic support of the Warfighter.”
Local residents have some concerns about the impact of further expansion at the already massive industrial site. Some are unhappy about Holston Plant’s open burning of waste which produces thick black smoke. Other concerns from the site centre on the discovery of RDX, an explosive organic compound used in explosives manufacture, in the Holston river, a court settlement called on the plant to act to reduce levels of RDX in local waters by 2020.
The Tennessee State Department of Environment & Conservation has announced a public meeting will be held on the 20th September for locals to air their concerns about the plant’s expansion.