More casualties of war
June 13, 2006 7:09 PM   Subscribe

Explosion at Iowa Army Ammunition Plant Interesting to note, this plant which is just a few miles from my hometown remained relatively dormant after the cold war ended.
posted by Tablecrumbs (40 comments total)

 
This already old news on the local news!
posted by delmoi at 7:17 PM on June 13, 2006


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posted by interrobang at 7:19 PM on June 13, 2006


Clinton bombed it.
posted by mischief at 7:20 PM on June 13, 2006


.

i bet this is the only sector of manufacturing in this country that's actually growing, unfortunately.
posted by amberglow at 7:21 PM on June 13, 2006


does anyone know how many missiles we're using a day in Iraq and Afghanistan?
posted by amberglow at 7:22 PM on June 13, 2006


In Soviet Russia, ammunition shoots YOU.

This FPP is weak sauce.
posted by fandango_matt at 7:22 PM on June 13, 2006


Table crumbs is right.
posted by smackfu at 7:24 PM on June 13, 2006


They're opening a new California Pizza Kitchen across the street from me. Oh, and I think they're going to repave the street soon. I'll keep you all updated.
posted by Justinian at 7:28 PM on June 13, 2006


It's sad, but working with high explosives is not as safe as baking a cake, and all the people working there know it.

It sounds like all the plant's basic safety precautions worked as designed. The building was designed to contain and vent the explosion to prevent secondaries, and it did. The reinforced concrete walls didn't give way. Only two people were killed because they only allow two people at a time in each reinforced concrete bay when they're working on explosives.

And according to the report this is the first fatal accident there in 45 years. Certainly we all would have liked their safety record to be perfect, but that's not possible here in the real world.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 7:29 PM on June 13, 2006


They're opening a new California Pizza Kitchen across the street from me.

Don't try and burn it down, two more will grow back in it's place.
posted by doctor_negative at 7:36 PM on June 13, 2006


I guess you find this interesting since it happened near your home town.
posted by puke & cry at 7:38 PM on June 13, 2006 [1 favorite]


I'm waiting for my pizza to arrive, but it's not from CPK.
posted by MikeKD at 7:42 PM on June 13, 2006


Rival U.S. Labs in Arms Race to Build Safer Nuclear Bomb
posted by homunculus at 7:44 PM on June 13, 2006


It's sad, but working with high explosives is not as safe as baking a cake, and all the people working there know it.

They're dead now. Well two of them. The rest don't work there anymore.
posted by delmoi at 7:47 PM on June 13, 2006


I guess you find this interesting since it happened near your home town.
What a strange comment.

I am hundreds of miles away from coal mine accidents or hurricanes...but, even when these tragedies happen, I still find them of interest.
posted by Tablecrumbs at 8:04 PM on June 13, 2006


Delmoi, you didn't read the article thoroughly enough. The plant is still in operation.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 8:14 PM on June 13, 2006


Certainly we all would have liked their safety record to be perfect, but that's not possible here in the real world.

I've always wondered, in cases like this, if they readjust the typical worker safety cheerleading sign in the facility to read, "This site has gone (1) day without an accident." Or is there a place to put up that sign now?
posted by raysmj at 8:20 PM on June 13, 2006


It's totally interesting--who knows what's being built here? And why should we only hear about supposed missile factories overseas? Even a google search turns up only foreign ones. And we're paying for all of it.

This i didn't know either: (WSJ) US: Arms Factories Pollute Drinking Water--...the edge of a so-called plume of underground water polluted with waste from a nearby missile factory. Among the chemicals found in local drinking wells is perchlorate, the main ingredient of solid rocket fuel and a known toxin. The Voetsches believe it was in their water and, they suspect, their garden soil. "We lived off the land and never thought twice about it," Mr. Voetsch says.
In the human body, perchlorate affects production of thyroid hormones -- a phenomenon that the Environmental Protection Agency says can cause thyroid ailments such as Graves' disease and cancer in adults. Fetuses and newborns, the EPA says, are at even greater risk, susceptible to neurological and other developmental damage.
For decades, millions of Americans have been unknowingly exposed to perchlorate through their local water supplies. No one denies that the chemical is toxic. But the level at which it becomes dangerous in drinking water is the subject of a fierce debate that pits the EPA against the Pentagon and its defense-industry allies. As a result, the U.S. is still years away from establishing a nationally enforced standard, and until it does so, a poisonous chemical lingers in the environment in amounts that could still be causing the slow spread of serious disease on a large scale.
To date, the EPA has identified 75 perchlorate releases in 22 states, including Arizona, Texas, Nebraska, Iowa, New York, Maryland and Massachusetts, as well as California. The Colorado River, the main water source for about 15 million homes across the Southwest, contains perchlorate at roughly seven parts per billion -- seven times the level that the EPA's National Center for Environmental Assessment says is safe.
Defense-industry dumping is suspected in nearly all these cases, ...

posted by amberglow at 8:22 PM on June 13, 2006


What a strange comment.

Well, you thought it was important enough to mention it right in the post so I just assumed.
posted by puke & cry at 8:50 PM on June 13, 2006 [1 favorite]


My parents worked at this plant long ago. It now seems very strange, in the middle of the pretty Iowa countryside, this plant making explosives, bombs, and bullets. Even stranger, in the slightly more distant past, the old AEC (Atomic Energy Commission) built nuclear weapons there. I lived in the plant housing for a time as a kid, and never thought any of this was unusual, showing, I guess, how kids always assume that their particular circumstances are the most natural way the world could be.
posted by SSShupe at 9:11 PM on June 13, 2006


What a terrible shame. Think of all those wedding parties which will have to go un-bombed.
posted by pompomtom at 9:16 PM on June 13, 2006


Well, you thought it was important enough to mention it right in the post so I just assumed.

Well, if I must explain. This story was buried by the national press as most ammunition plant accidents are (for obvious reasons). I mentioned it was near my hometown so you would know I was familiar with the plant and knew that it operated with a small crew after the cold war ended and was only recently fully operational again. I passed the plant all my life. The miles of electric fences and security gates are quite a sight in the rural beauty of Iowa. I hope this explains why I had the gall to mention it was near my hometown. END OF RANT.
posted by Tablecrumbs at 9:23 PM on June 13, 2006


What a terrible shame. Think of all those wedding parties which will have to go un-bombed.

OK,

A) Har, har... You're so clever...

B) Did anyone else think USS Iowa when they first saw this?
posted by Cyrano at 9:27 PM on June 13, 2006


Eh, fair enough.

Really I just pictured bugs bunny hitting warheads with a hammer. Anyone else?
posted by puke & cry at 9:32 PM on June 13, 2006 [1 favorite]


I lived in the plant housing for a time as a kid, and never thought any of this was unusual, showing, I guess, how kids always assume that their particular circumstances are the most natural way the world could be.

I did as well, Flint Hills Manor in West Burlington
posted by Tablecrumbs at 9:38 PM on June 13, 2006


We go to the Wisconsin Dells a lot with the kids (in fact, we're going this weekend). Living on the west side of Madison, we tend to take the "back route", which goes through Sauk City and Baraboo. You drive through this nicely wooded countryside, with occasional glimpses of the ever-present signs for the House on the Rock or the Mystery Spot, and you just never see it coming -- the huge freaking Army Ammo factory.

It spans the entire valley as you drive by it, with a few tanks parked out in front, just in case you didn't get the hint. While you're driving by, it's always a curious exercise to see if you can see the other end of it. Never works out.

On a lark, I wondered if a military installation would be on Google Maps. Yep, there it is. You can even see the 2 tanks parked out front.
posted by thanotopsis at 9:44 PM on June 13, 2006


And according to the report this is the first fatal accident there in 45 years.

Holy Hell, my company is hard pressed to produce an accident record better than 45 days.

That said;

.

And if you are in the mood to hate on ammunition factories in Wisconsin, thanotopsis don't forget to mention that Dr. Evermore has been trying to get access to the ammunition factory across his street.
posted by quin at 10:53 PM on June 13, 2006


A super-secret black-bag biowarfare lab blowing up... maybe.

An ammo plant? ptthhh
posted by porpoise at 11:08 PM on June 13, 2006


About the Google Maps -- I'm in the UK, and Google Maps claims that they don't have imagery at that level.
posted by jb at 2:47 AM on June 14, 2006


I'm in the US and they c laim they don't have imagery at that level, either.
posted by heydanno at 4:57 AM on June 14, 2006


Doh, the tanks link should be here.
posted by thanotopsis at 5:31 AM on June 14, 2006


As much time as I just spent zooming around in that last image - trying to figure out what those tidy little rows of buildings with no roads are - I'm sure I've just gone and landed myself on a secret government list.
posted by idigress at 6:40 AM on June 14, 2006


Looks like you can't look at it on Google Maps anymore. At least I couldn't
posted by Chorian at 8:31 AM on June 14, 2006


That is a little weird. You can zoom in all the way on Google Earth, but the resolution isn't that good. I swear the second time I opened that link there was a brief flash of some seriously good resolution, then it went back to they grey...
posted by joecacti at 8:43 AM on June 14, 2006


sho nuff. I clicked the link again and hit printscreen quickly before it reverted. Great resolution. I'd post the pic up here but I'm honestly not sure that it's wise to post satellite pics of quasi-military installations.
posted by joecacti at 8:48 AM on June 14, 2006


I'm from Burlington, too (long ago).

http://www.thehawkeye.com/daily/stories/ln8_0614.html

the plant is southwest of town in the woods
posted by lathrop at 11:57 AM on June 14, 2006


Think of all those wedding parties which will have to go un-bombed.

I have a buddy who works at an ammo plant. I like to call him "Schindler" to give him a hard time.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:04 PM on June 14, 2006


I can't find the original article, but I remember reading about this plant when the Iraq war broke out. One worker recalled when he started there and a bomb rolled off his fork lift and hit the ground. Terrified, he jumped off the lift and started running. A co-worker stopped him and said, "If you hear it the floor, you don't have to worry about it."
posted by borkus at 12:47 PM on June 14, 2006


Strangely enough, it never says what city the plant is in. And the cryptic "Interesting to note, this plant which is just a few miles from my hometown" does nothing to fill in that detail.

I thought that was the first rule of news reporting: The basic facts- when, where, etc.
posted by Doohickie at 4:24 PM on June 14, 2006


Ah.... it is in "Middletown". My apologies. (Although that detail is not revealed until almost the end of the story.)
posted by Doohickie at 4:25 PM on June 14, 2006


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