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Thread: Munition plant explosian

  1. #1
    Boolit Master TNsailorman's Avatar
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    Munition plant explosian

    We had an explosion at the BAE munitions plant here in Kingsport, Tennessee earlier in the day a little before 12. I have been waiting for news about it but they have put a clamp on the outgoing information, which is being controlled by BAE. People have reported seeing a fire and then an explosion, a very heavy and loud explosion. My house is about 16 to 18 miles away and it sounded like a truck had run into the side of my house. There a pretty good vibration that went thru the ground also. That munitions plant has been producing high explosives since slightly before WW II and as far as I can remember, it has never had an explosion like this before. There are no reports of casualties from the hospitals as it is being reported that the operating people had been evacuated when the fire broke out and just before the explosion. It was called the Holston Ammunition Plant before BAE took over operations several years ago. It is not the first powder plant to blow and it probably won't be the last. james

  2. #2
    Boolit Buddy
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    interesting, keep us updated.

  3. #3
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    nope, not the first, and certainly not the last. most of the time, outside the industry no one hears about the explosions and fires in ammo plants.

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    Boolit Master TNsailorman's Avatar
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    There is very little chance of a catastrophic explosion of the munitions stored by the plant. The magazines are located across the Holston River and in storage magazine tunnels dug deep inside Bays Mountain. It is a very important powder producer for the Government though. A big section of the mountain is fenced and the River is closed for about a mile where it runs thru the plant. I have hunted in that area years ago when I was young enough. It had and still has a large number of deer and ducks that call the area home.
    Last edited by TNsailorman; 01-04-2019 at 09:14 AM.

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    Boolit Master uscra112's Avatar
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    Nobody killed, or even hurt. The safety protocols worked.
    flectere si nequeo superos, acheronta movebo

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    Boolit Master TNsailorman's Avatar
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    I worked for the company that ran the plant from the time it was built until just a few years ago and they were very safety conscious. I bet the "why did it happen and how can we prevent it happening again" investigations have already started. Thank God, nobody was injured or killed. Modern day electronic monitors and computers are changing the workplace and making it much safer.

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    Boolit Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by uscra112 View Post
    Nobody killed, or even hurt. The safety protocols worked.
    Yes. Thankfully.

    I hope the damage wasn't as bad as it sounds like it could have been.

    When you think of how much ammunition the US government uses, something like this starts making one think about possibilities of a security crisis somewhere, though I'm sure there are redundancies in place to make sure one plant wouldn't cause that.

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    So after reading the article, it sounds like this resulted from a planned burn off of something, is that correct? Guess I never thought of what is done if a lot of powder doesn't meet specs for some reason or other.

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    Boolit Master

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    Do they produce the powder and explosives their or just assemble the munitions?

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    Boolit Master TNsailorman's Avatar
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    rich, I am just repeating what I have read or heard from sources as I cannot access the site. The planned "burn off" was the decision to let the building burn down after a fire started and threatened the safety of workers. At least that is the story I have been given.
    ROCHE, They produce powder, not ammunition. The very highest grade and powerful the armed services use. Really high grade stuff. Because of that, the plant was one of the high priority targets of the Soviet Union during the cold war, and probably now also.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    From the news release I agree that they made a decision to allow the building to burn after it caught fire.

    Seems like a good call.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master


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    First, glad to hear no one was hurt.

    Just curious, what would have caused such a violent explosion? Smokeless powder does not cause it unless the vessel it is stored in cannot vent. Primer compounds are explosive but would there be enough to cause the damage suffered?

    Again, it is good to hear there were no causalities.
    Don Verna

    NRA Endowment Member

  14. #14
    Boolit Master TNsailorman's Avatar
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    Powder , like a lot of other materials, is made in vats and vessels(tanks). The vessels are closed units and not vented(during actual operation) as they will not operate correctly in an open setting. All our vessels were under a constant blanket of Nitrogen (a inert gas). My guess and it is only a guess(and it is only a guess based on my operational experience from years ago) is that the fire developed in the drying area and because powder can become explosive in an enclosed space(a drying unit) and would not likely be all that explosive in the initial wet manufacturing process, all tho it could under the right circumstances. Static electricity (even from the type shoes being worn) can be a very dangerous in manufacturing operation using flammable or explosive material. Material, (wet or dry) moving thru a pipeline can cause static and you must bled it off or control it is some fashion.

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    Boolit Master
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    Do they produce propellant powder for artillery or small arms, or do they produce high explosives for bombs, mortar shells, demolition, etc.?

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    Boolit Master

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    Well it seems that no one was hurt. That’s good. They must have good emergency protocols. I hope we have other producers to take up the lost output, so our military won’t be lacking anything.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    I think it was A building at A facility, so I doubt the loss of one building will result in a huge impact to our nation's powder supply.

  18. #18
    Boolit Buddy
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    hmmm these powder plant kabooms have gotten rather suspicios in the last 20 years.

  19. #19
    Boolit Master

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    I live about 4 miles from the plant on the other side of the mountain. That kaboom shook my house thoroughly! As far as what they make, it's comp B and RDX. Both are high explosives. No propellant type powder is made there. It is my understanding that particular building was being decomissioned and most of the explosives and equipment had already been removed. One thing's for certain, NOBODY outside of BAE systems and the DOD will ever know what went on for sure!

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BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
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