The Radford Army Ammunition Plant shared final results of its first real world air pollution tests with the public at a meeting in Christiansburg Wednesday night.
New River valley residents had long been asking for actual measurements instead of estimates of toxic emissions released by the Radford Arsenal, when it burns munitions waste in the open air. Drone testing last fall found lower levels of most of the toxic chemicals emitted but it also found higher levels of some others. Deputy Commander Rob Davie, says Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency will consider the test results in the plant’s permit renewal request. “We’re excited about the results. We feel good that we were able to get these results done, do the direct measurement that has been a concern for the community. We were able to deliver on that and were able to bring that into our risk assessment process and develop what we hope is going to be a better permit.”
About 50 community members attended the meeting. Erin Card is one of them. “We’re raising 3 little boys within 3 miles of the arsenal and there’s been health concerns with our family.”
Card said after the meeting, she still has more questions than answers about the effect of toxic emissions by the plant. “I just yesterday was diagnosed with nearing a hyper thyroid-thing and I’m still learning about it. I had an ultrasound on Monday. Also, my husband has faced cancer diagnoses and my little boy, at 2, a few years ago, doctors found a kind of cyst near his thyroid. So that was removed. It was not cancerous, but related –ish- to the thyroid. So, 3 out of 5 members of my family have had health concerns that have come up. Do we know if it’s connected? We do not know. Does it seem to have a connection? Maybe, yes."
The Radford Arsenal recently began work on designing a new incinerator to replace its long-time practice of open burning of toxic waste. It is believed it could prevent 95 percent of the arsenal's toxic emissions from polluting the air. But with no firm commitment from the Department of Defense to fund a new incinerator, plant officials say it could be anywhere from 3 to ten years away.