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Explosives disposal company allowed to expand

By KOBY LEVIN | The Joplin Globe, Mo. (Tribune News Service) | Published: January 13, 2018

A local company that disposes of explosives discarded by the U.S. military received a permit Thursday to expand its plant east of Joplin. EBV Explosives Environmental Co. was set to begin full operation of machinery that destroys propellants used to power rockets and missiles, after approval from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

The two new units were already in use at the company's waste hazardous waste treatment and storage operation 4174 County Road 180 east of Duenweg under a provisional permit.

Inside the company's compound, the newly built Building #12 holds several ovens that contain electric heat plates. The plates ignite the propellants, which burn up in seconds once lit. Fans draw the exhaust gases away for further treatment.

EBV previously disposed of propellant alongside other explosives in its incinerator unit. Radu Mariuta, of the DNR's Hazardous Waste Program, declined to say why the company is moving to a different disposal method for propellants.

EBV representatives did not immediately return a request for comment.

The public did not take issue with the proposed permit during a 45-day comment period, according to Mariuta. No comments were submitted.

EBV sits on 55 acres approximately 3 miles east of Joplin and 4 miles southwest of Carthage. The property was previously owned by Atlas Powder Co., which manufactured explosives and chemicals in a complex that totaled 1,800 acres, according to the DNR website.

EBV, which split off from Atlas Powder in 2001, disposes of hazardous waste from the Department of Defense and explosives manufacturers. It also does business as General Dynamics-Ordnance and Tactical Systems, Munitions Services.

"As far as handling the material and the contracts they have, they're one of the few companies in the country that do that sort of thing," Mariuta said.

The company holds numerous permits from the DNR for storing and disposing of explosives.

Elsewhere in the operation, disassembly lines destroy expended military munitions at a rate of more than 1,000 pounds per hour. Another machine chops rocket motors into pieces, then feeds them into an incinerator. More than 70,000 of gallons of free liquids and 2 tons of explosives are stored on the site.

The newly approved process for eliminating nitrocellulose-based propellants is less risky than other operations already in use at EBV, according to Mariuta.

"As far as I can tell, it's not as dangerous as the incinerator on-site," Mariuta said. "It's not like they're using the unit to destroy bombs or anything."

Appeals still open

No public comments were made about a request from EBV Explosives Environmental Co. to expand its hazardous waste operation east of Joplin, according to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Anyone may appeal the decision before Feb. 13.

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