Deadly Explosion at Army Ammunition Plant in Missouri

Lake City Army Ammunition Plant (Army Photo)
Lake City Army Ammunition Plant (Army Photo)

An explosion rocked an Army ammunition plant on Tuesday in Missouri, leaving one person dead and four others injured, the service said.

The incident occurred around 1 p.m. local time at a "mixing building" at the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in Independence, Missouri, according to Justine Barati, director of public and congressional affairs for Joint Munitions Command.

"The four injured employees were evaluated on scene and refused further treating," Barati said in an email. "The explosion was in a primer mixing cell. The investigation is currently ongoing" to determine what caused the incident, she said.

The facility is owned by the service but operated by Orbital-ATK and produces more than 1 billion rounds of small-caliber ammunition each year. About 30 government employees work at the plant, including 29 civilians and one soldier, according to the email.

The slain worker and the others who were injured were all employed by the company, Barati said in a brief telephone interview with

A spokesman for Orbital-ATK didn't immediately respond to a request for comment but the company later posted a statement online.

"We confirm there was an explosion today at the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant that resulted in a fatality of one of our team members," it states. "Investigation is underway. Our hearts and thoughts go out to the family of our fallen colleague."

Officials with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or ATF, have secured the scene and determined the area to be safe, but the plant has been closed for the rest of the day, Barati said. Employees should call their building hotline number before returning to work on Wednesday, she said.

A press conference was scheduled for later in the day.

Orbital-ATK on Monday received a nearly $100 million contract from the Army to produce 5.56mm and 7.62mm ammo for the service. The company and the Army have upgraded the facility in recent years to enhanced product quality, performance and efficiency, according to a recent press release.

Since 2000, ATK has produced more than 17 billion rounds of small-caliber ammunition at Lake City to support U.S. and allied warfighters around the globe.

The sprawling facility is housed on nearly 4,000 acres and includes 408 buildings, 43 magazines, nine warehouses and storage capacity of 707,000 square feet, according to the Army.

-- Brendan McGarry can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.

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