For the first time, the United States Army announced a potential solution to reduce open burning at their facility in Kingsport.

For more than 70 years, workers at Holston Army Ammunition have disposed of waste contaminated with explosives by setting it on fire at the site.

Annie Harrell, who lives near the plant, said she has concerns with the plumes of black smoke that come from the plant when the Army conducts open burning. 

“I don’t tend to linger inside,” Harrell said. “I like to walk my dogs a lot but I don’t do it on those days.”

She said she worries about the impact on people who live near the plant.

“The effect of the environment and the effects of everyone’s health that’s breathing the air in when it is burning,” Harrell said.

Joe Kennedy, commander’s representative at Holston Army Ammunition Plant, said it’s a concern they take seriously.

“We want to make this place a better place to live in the Kingsport area and we want to reduce the admissions to our workforce in addition to just the greater Kingsport area so we’re pursuing technologies that will do that,” Kennedy said.

It comes just months after a public meeting in December, that’s where neighbors expressed their concerns and the Army announced plans to find a safe alternative to open burning.

In the study, Kennedy said the Army found a technology called a Car Bottom Furnace that could be the solution to reduce open burning. 

“A Car Bottom Furnace is a very large, very large furnace such as the back of a railroad car that that large of a furnace, it’s a pretty good size,” Kennedy said. “It could handle a lot of our explosives contaminated equipment.”

For neighbors like Harrell, she considers it progress.

“I think it would make people happy to know they care enough about us to stop the burning or contain the burning, and that they are thinking about us, and the surrounding neighborhood and Kingsport as a whole,” Harrell said.

Kennedy said the next step is to get a design completed and make sure funding is secured.

The Army will hold another public meeting on April 11 at 6 p.m. at ETSU Allandale Campus in Kingsport.