Blacksburg passes resolution urging Radford Arsenal to address environmental hazards

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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) The Town of Blacksburg says it does not trust the Radford Army Ammunition Plant. It is also raising doubts that employees are doing everything they can to be environmentally safe.

This is all according to a Resolution just passed Tuesday night.

Click here to read the resolution adopted by Blacksburg Town Council.

While the two page resolution commends the Arsenal for providing munitions to defend our nation, it also comments that the plant isn't doing enough to protect Blacksburg and Montgomery County area. That's Something the Arsenal's new Commander strongly disagrees with.

The resolution asserts ten statements about the Arsenal, including the effects it's open burn has on the area.

The group Citizens for Arsenal Accountability has been voicing that concern for some time.

CAA member Phyllis Albritton said Wednesday, "We have a higher rate of cancer in this area than most parts of this broader region of our nation."

The resolution echoes that, "The National Cancer Institute reports thyroid cancer rates in the New River Valley are among the highest in the Commonwealth and nearly two times the national rate, and thyroid disease is understood to be caused by exposure to environmental toxins."

But the plant has continued to defend it's environmental practices.

Arsenal Commander LTC James H. Scott III said in an email Wednesday, "I am shocked and saddened by the misinformation the Town Council of the Town of Blacksburg asserted in Resolution 11-C-17. The health and safety of our employees and the communities in which we live and work along with the stewardship of the environment is our everlasting focus.

"It is our unwavering commitment to make Radford Army Ammunition Plant better every day. I am confident in our strategy to develop long term growth and stability for the plant, our plan for new and emerging technologies, and our resolute commitment to the Warfighter, this great community, and our environment.

"I hope I have the opportunity to meet the Mayor of Blacksburg, the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors, and look forward to addressing the discrepancies outlined in the Town Councils' Resolution. I am immensely proud of our workforce and I pledge to uphold the exceptional reputation of this facility. I am committed to our environment, the New River Valley community, and the Radford Army Ammunition Plant."

But it's not just the practices Blacksburg is calling into question, but that the Arsenal knew there were problems and didn't say anything.

According to the resolution, "Between 2011 and 2013, the RAAP failed to self-report 287 violations of smokestack regulations."

Albritton said about the Town stepping up with this Resolution, "I'm just grateful that they're concerned, because for so long our leadership in the area has not been concerned."

WDBJ7 reached out to the Town of Blacksburg Offices to get more information, but was told only Mayor Ron Rordam or Vice Mayor, and Mayor-Elect, Leslie Hager-Smith could answer any questions. Neither returned phone calls or emails Wednesday.

The resolution also has six measure's the Council would like to see enacted, including, "Establish a one-year timeline in which the RAAP will terminate equal to or greater than 95% of open burning and convert to only the safe and contained burning of toxic chemicals."

Again, the resolution can be viewed in it's entirety by clicking here.

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