Drone air quality testing results show high levels of harmful pollutants at Radford Arsenal

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MONTGOMERY CO., Va. (WDBJ7/AP) High levels of arsenic, lead, and other pollutants were found in the air at the Radford Army Ammunition Plant.

A draft report on testing by government agencies reveals higher than expected levels of the harmful chemicals coming from the burning of hazardous waste.

The Army Ammunition Plant and environmentalists now have a better idea of exactly what is in the area around the facility.

The results were supposed to come out in December, now nine months later the draft report results are raising concern.

The colorful smoke clouds over the Radford Arsenal are full of harmful chemicals according to researchers who flew a drone to collect air samples during open air burning.

The hazardous waste explodes into the air releasing a high amount lead, arsenic, silver, cadmium and chloromethane, according to the report.

Researchers found that the majority of substances tested were lower than what they were expected. But, in one type of burn tested, levels of lead were five times higher than the expected level. In another burn, Arsenic was found to be 37 times higher, according to the draft report.

"I'm not surprised," said Justin Haber with Citizens for Arsenal Accountability and a senior at Virginia Tech.

Environmentalists and scientists say these results raise concerns about the potential health hazards.

"We hope that the EPA and the DEQ can put in regulations to make sure that the people that are being most affected by the arsenal have the safeguards to prevent the arsenal from doing them more harm," Haber said.

Scientists at Virginia Tech say more testing would be needed to see if the levels are high enough to be concerning off the property too at nearby schools and neighborhoods.

The plant only responded to WDBJ7's request for comment with a three line response saying the report is still in a draft format.

Plant leaders say they will release information about the testing at their next public meeting August 16th at the Christiansburg Library at 6:30 p.m.