Radford, VA Nitro Explosion, Jan 1978


Radford, Va. (AP) -- Five thousand pounds of nitrogylcerine blew up with an earth-shaking roar at the Radford army ammunition plant early Friday, leaving one worker dead, another missing and six injured.
One building at the arsenal, run by Hercules Inc., under contract to the U.S. Army, was destroyed and one-half dozen others were severely damaged in the 6:10 a.m. explosion, heard as far as 32 kilometres away.
Store windows were knocked out in this south-western Virginia town of 11,500, where the arsenal employs about 2,600 persons. Lesser damage was reported throughout the surrounding New River Valley area.
Arsenal officials said the impact of the as-yet-unexplained blast was comparable to the explosion of 8,000 pounds of dynamite. No estimate of the property loss is immediately available.
It is the second big explosion at the arsenal in less than four years.
About 100 workers were injured, five seriously, and $10 million in damage was done when an explosion wiped out the arsenal's dynamite installaion May 31, 1971.
The explosion Friday demolished the arsenal's wooden, 10-metre by 10-metre nitro storehouse, killing one of the two workers inside and apparently burying the other under a huge pile of dirt and debris.
An estimated 200 to 300 other employees were at work, but only eight were in the nirto section and only two of these in the storehouse.

Winnipeg Free Press Manitoba 1978-01-07