BAE restarts explosives production

Hank Hayes • Jan 22, 2019 at 5:30 PM

KINGSPORT — BAE Systems announced Tuesday it has restarted explosives production at the Holston Army Ammunition Plant (HSAAP) following a fire and explosion at the facility about three weeks ago.

“BAE Systems, along with the U.S. Army, have determined that the Holston Army Ammunition plant facility is ready to safely begin a staggered restart of production today,” BAE spokesman Christopher Finley said in an email. “The investigation into the accident is ongoing. Both the Army and BAE Systems continue working with investigators to determine what caused the fire and explosion. However, the facility has been inspected and is ready for partial operations to resume.

“In preparation for the production restart, safety stand-downs were conducted plant-wide, along with the implementation of additional safety measures. The health and safety of our workforce, facility, and community remain top priority.”

With BAE Systems as its contractor, HSAAP manufactures a wide range of explosives for the U.S. Department of Defense at the 6,042-acre site.

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation had launched investigations into whether the fire and explosion impacted the Holston River and the air.

An internal Army memo is encouraging facilities like HSAAP to reduce reliance on open burning of waste and terminate the practice by 2024, the plant’s neighbors were told at a public meeting held last month.

An ongoing modernization effort at the facility calls for decommissioning a coal steam plant by 2023, bringing a natural gas steam plant online in 2021 and expanding its industrial waste water treatment plant by early 2020.