Reprinted from www.libertylobby.org, home of The SPOTLIGHT archive
Feds Cover Up Mystery Explosion
By Mike Blair
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Fire arms (BATF) and the Pentagon are concealing the cause of one of the largest, supposedly accidental explosions in the United States.
However, according to sources, the blast that took place at a munitions dump in Arkansas' Calhoun County on April 29 was caused by the detonation of tons of smokeless gun powder used for small arms ammunition in either a terrible accident or a deliberate attempt to cut into U.S. supplies.
Centered in a sprawling WWII-era ammunition storage depot located east of Camden, the blast caused a crater 16 feet deep the size of a football field, rattling windows and cracking plaster walls 50 miles away. The explosion was so violent that some thought it may have been a small tactical atomic blast. It even produced a pinkish-orange mushroom-shaped cloud, a trademark of nuclear detonation.
Once used for testing and storing Navy ammunitions, much of the former depot now functions as the Highland Industrial Park, where several Defense Department contractors secretly store munitions and conduct tests.
The entire area has been sealed off by the BATF, the military and security provided by the individual companies who rent some 650 bunkers that were part of the old Navy munitions storage facility. Not even local police, medical and fire officials have been allowed to enter.
The blast was reported locally, but ig nored by the national media. Residents in the area are not even certain of who utilized the bunker where the explosion occurred.
Initially, it was reported that the facility, an earth-covered storage igloo, was rented from the Highland Industrial Park by National Technical Systems (NTS), which has been involved in weapons research and body armor for the military and civilian law enforcement agencies, since the early 1990s.
After initial reports that NTS owned the facility it was indicated that the igloo was instead being utilized for munitions storage by New River Energetics of Radford, Va., and managed by its parent company, Alliant Tech Systems Inc., which is based in Hopkins, Minn.
Alliant in 1999 secured a contract with the Pentagon to provide small arms am mu nition for the next 10 years, beating out the Olin Corporation, which had for years provided the Winchester-Western brand of cartridges for the military (SPOTLIGHT, April 3, 2000).
Alliant is in the process of developing so-called "green ammunition" for military small arms, which is more "environmentally friendly."
For hundreds of years ammunition has been produced of lead or with lead cores, which environmentalists claim is polluting the ground and waters of the world.
Alliant is developing a new type of ammunition which utilizes bullet cores of tungsten, a more environmentally suitable metal but one which costs about $2.70 per pound as compared to about 21 cents for lead.
Tungsten is most commonly known for its use in the production of light bulb elements.
However, the problem with the new ammunition is that it will not only be more expensive, there will also be a need to secure large amounts of tungsten.
Red China is the world's largest supplier of the vital metal.
Critics of the new "green ammo" question the soundness of having to depend on China as the major source of ammunition for the military.
According to SPOTLIGHT sources the blast in Arkansas was caused by the detonation of about 60 tons of smokeless powder used for small arms ammunition.
In the last few years, the military has suffered from a major shortage of available small arms ammunition. One reason given is that the Clinton administration ordered a cutback in production due to the planned switch to tungsten-core bullets.
The shortage has been so severe that target practice has been curtailed to the point of reducing the marksmanship of servicemen.
Experts said that if 60 tons of small arms gunpowder went up in smoke in the Camden blast it may expedite the speed at which ammunition stocks can be replenished with the green ammo.
This is why sabotage, according to one source in Camden, is not being ruled out as a possible cause of the explosion.
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