Radford Army Ammunition Plant holds community meeting, addresses pollution issues

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CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (WDBJ7)— On Wednesday, folks in the New River Valley had a chance to meet the Radford Arsenal’s new commander and ask questions about the issues that are important to them.

One of the biggest topics at Wednesday’s community meeting revolved around pollution near the plant, and now we have a better idea of efforts the arsenal is making toward cleaner air.

“The reason I’m here tonight is to see where the progress is,” said Rex Card who lives near the plant. “When I first started coming it was more to push to try and get something started or something done.”

Card continues to worry about the open burning at the plant, especially because he has four small children.

“The open burning ground is one of those things I think when people realize that it’s actually occurring, it’s just shocking to know that many chemicals and that many things are being burned in pans right near the New River Valley,” Card said.

The arsenal’s biggest push is to reduce waste treated at the open burn ground 50 percent by 2021, and a new Energetic Waste Incinerator, or EWI, will eventually help to treat 95 percent of the current waste.

“The new incinerator will essentially eliminate the need for the open burning grounds so we will do both, eliminate the open burning ground waste as well as some of the other material that would be coming out of the plant,” said Lt. Col. Anthony Kazor, the new plant commander.

This is all part of Kazor’s “Commander’s Environmental Stewardship Challenge”—that is, an effort to continue to preserve the environment and strengthen and maintain transparency within the community.

“I see the military and our operations as a partnership with our local communities and really look forward to continuing to foster that partnership and build upon the previous successes of the commanders before me,” Kazor said.

Kazor said they have invested about $150 million in the EWI, and through these two efforts, they hope to be well under their current burning rates. They hope the new EWI will reduce waste, water and power consumption as low as reasonably achievable by 2023.

Card sees the commander’s challenge as forward motion.

“I feel like the good faith is there and plans are being proposed and an actual design has been put into place for the EWI,” Card said. “Just the fact that’s there at all is progress for sure.”

The plant hopes to break ground on the EWI within the next few months.

At Wednesday’s meeting we also got an update on the fire that happened on June 6, the new commander’s first day. The employee who went to the hospital has since returned to work. Mixing operations are still down while they investigate what caused the fire.

“As we move forward, we will work to make sure that we are getting messaging out as soon as possible with the right information,” Kazor said. “That’s why today we gave an update during our quarterly meeting to let the public know what happened and the status of the worker.”

The next commander's community meeting will be held on December 11 at 6:30 p.m. at the Christiansburg Library. You are encouraged to reach out ahead of time if there is a particular topic you would like to be covered.