Radford Arsenal answers more environmental questions, discusses working with community

RADFORD, Va. (WDBJ7) The Radford Army Ammunition Plant is still answering concerns about it's effect on the environment and people living and working nearby.

Thursday night's quarterly meeting started with concerns raised by the Town of Blacksburg.

Both Arsenal and New River Health experts said the information used in Blacksburg's recent resolution was not from them.

Commander Lt. Col. James Scott said the Town admitted it's information was wrong, including that the Arsenal is causing raised levels of thyroid cancer in this area.

"Self-admittedly they got it pretty wrong," he said. "Some of their accusations are not the case."

Dr. Noelle Bissell, the Medical Director of the New River Health District, was also at the meeting presenting on thyroid cancer.

She explained, "Statistically no, we do not have any significant increases in thyroid cancer in our locality, and certainly nothing that we can point to the Arsenal as a cause."

But the beliefs in the resolution were not what people wanted to talk about Thursday night. Again, it was the testing and monitoring of the air pollution, tracked earlier this year by drone technology.

One woman said, "I question the flight of the drone. Let her fly again. We need to watch how much you all have accomplished in bringing down this waste."

Another woman asked, "Are there plans to repeat the drone studies?"

When told there are not plans at this time, she asked, "Can you comment on why or why not? Why not?"

The Commander said the testing that happened, only took place because of a partnership between the Arsenal, NASA, the EPA's Research Triangle, the University of Dayton, and the Department of Defense.

He said, "To get that to fly again here, I don't know the probability of that. That's definitely something that we do have the know-how with and if that's something we can look forward to, we'll see if we can move that technology back, but right now it's not something that's on the table."

Another question was over the timeline of the replace the open burn facility. At the end of CY 2017, the Arsenal is expected to have 90% of the design completed and submitted to the government.

But it's about five more years before the new facility would be completed and programmed.

One man asked, "How can we help you expedite that? If there's a General you need us to contact and harass, we'll do that for you, Commander."

Lt. Col. Scott said when asked about the timeline, "I'm not going to speak too much to the acquisition process through the Department of Defense. There's a lot of changes, I thinking, coming ahead with the new Secretary on Board."

Another big discussion Thursday night was allowing the community to get an outside expert of it's own to visit the Arsenal and do it's own testing.

Lt. Col. Scott said he'd be willing to work with the area to find someone and work out any security issues.

He also said he's willing to do online meetings with people so things can be discussed more frequently than once every three months.

The Arsenal says anyone with further questions can go to their website for more information.

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