State approves air quality permit for Phase 1 of Holston Army Ammunition Plant expansion

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Officials with Holston Army Ammunition Plant in Kingsport said the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) approved an air permit for phase one of a multi-million dollar expansion.

Officials say the expansion would enable the Army to double their production of explosives.

On Wednesday, representatives with BAE Systems and Holston Army Ammunition Plant held a public meeting at ETSU’s Allandale Campus in Kingsport.

Commander Col. Luis Ortiz said the goal of the meeting was to inform the community about what goes on at the plant.

“It is my goal to provide you with better answers,” Ortiz said during the meeting Wednesday.

One of the main topics at the meeting was the Army’s plan to expand the facility.

Commander’s Representative Joseph Kennedy says the Army has prepared for a $450 million expansion for several years.

“We’ve been investing in the installations since 2003,” Kennedy said. “That’s when the major investment program had started, initiated.”

In a presentation, Kennedy displayed some of the plans for the expansion, including a $148 million natural gas stem plant and a $132 million expansion of its industrial waste water treatment plant.

He said the expansion would allow the plant to produce more explosives for the military, which some community members fear will come with an increase in open burning.

It’s a practice that has been controversial for several years.

“There are things going into the air that aren’t good for us,” Barbara Miller said.

But Kennedy said as the Army works to expand the facility, they are also working to find a solution to open burning.

“We currently are in the middle of a study that is set to be completed by March for that study to evaluate existing mature technologies for open burning for the products or the explosives that we have at Holston,” Kennedy said.

Officials with Holston Army Ammunition estimate a start date of Spring of 2019 and a completion date of 2023.

The next public meeting is scheduled for April 11 at 6 p.m. at ETSU’s Allandale Campus in Kingsport.

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