- Associated Press - Friday, May 13, 2016

CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (AP) - Details about upcoming air testing at the Radford Army Ammunition Plant were discussed Thursday during a community meeting about environmental issues at the facility.

“We’re going to do more testing,” the plant’s commander, Lt. Col. Alicia Masson, told the crowd of about 30 people who came to meet with her and other officials from the U.S. Army, which owns the site, and BAE Systems, which operates the facility.

The plant plans to use a drone to conduct air tests over the open area where waste materials are burned. Those tests are scheduled for Sept. 19-30 and are being conducted by a team that includes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, NASA and the University of Dayton.

Mason said the drone tests are part of an effort to make the plant more responsive to public concerns. The plant’s environmental record has come under increasing scrutiny from residents and local governments in recent years.

“Your concerns are heard,” Masson told those attending Thursday’s meeting. “We’ve got a lot of notes, so we’re going to owe you some feedback at the next one of these things.”

According to Masson and Rob Davie, chief of operations at the plant, the drone tests were first suggested at a prior community meeting, and the results will be shared with the public and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, which is considering the ammunition plant’s request to renew its open burning permit.

Justine Barati, the director of public and congressional affairs for the Army’s Joint Munitions Command, said that if the drone testing works well and seems useful, it is likely to be repeated at the plant and other facilities.

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Information from: The Roanoke Times, http://www.roanoke.com

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