Hand Grenades Found at New River Explosion Site May Have Been There for a "Long Time"

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Britt Reints via Flickr

Hand grenades were found at the New River ranch where a man lost his foot in an explosion last week.

A 49-year-old man apparently stepped on something that exploded while he was helping friends move out of a house on the ranch, which used to be owned by a military weapons maker with a shady background.

See also:
-Explosion Takes Man's Leg at Old Site of Munitions Maker
-New River Explosion Site Had "Caches of Explosives" in the '90s

The former owner of that ranch, Charles Byers, who manufactured explosive devices at the site, told a TV station in California last week that he was absolutely certain that no explosives were left at the site.

MCSO Deputy Joaquin Enriquez investigators just finished a "secondary and final search" of the property, which yielded three hand grenades:
"The grenades appeared to be very weathered and likely were on the property for a long time. Each was disposed by a bomb technician.
The site is one of the former manufacturing facilities for Accuracy Systems Incorporated, which was well-known for some highly unsafe practices.

Back in 1989, there was an explosion at a facility in Buckeye, which decapitated one man, and injured two others.

At the time, New Times interviewed several employees about the safety practices at the plant, or rather, the lack thereof.

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The remarks of Byers'  former workers are illuminating. I know nothing of Mr. Byers, not that I can recall anyhow. I do, however, have some experience in the manufacture of civilian pyrotechnics, a closely related enterprise. Safety practices vary widely in that business. Some manufacturers are meticulous, others not so much. Many driving factors are economic. In order to compete in the market manufacturers must employ people at the bottom of the wage scale. These were people who were either not very bright, or too hard up for a job to be concerned about minor considerations like safety issues. If management wasn't right on top of things, the process went to Hell in short order.

In my experience there was a great gulf between the knowledge and expertise of the owners and managers of the company where I worked and their employees. Safety measures were simply not understood by the workers beyond the level of "Don't do this. Don't do that.". The only people I knew who had even read the seminal texts in the business were the owners, couple of the managers, and myself (a consultant). Many of the workers doing assembly were barely literate. The pressure to produce more units per shift led to disregard for safety .

The behavior, as reported, of Mr. Byers with respect to keeping his employees in the dark regarding the nature of the materials they were handling, if accurately reported, can be nothing short of reprehensible and negligent. The trade secret argument doesn't hold water. Contractors like Mr. Byers make materials to government specs. Very little of that sort of thing is trade secret. Some might be classified at one level or another, but that isn't the same thing.

While I don't know much regarding the expertise of the MCSO people involved, prior experience would indicate that the expertise of local functionaries should be regarded skeptically. When it comes to manufacture of explosives the people who know what they are doing are with very few exceptions, the industry pros. Back when I was involved in the business, the ATF would periodically check our facility for compliance with storage regulations and record keeping. They were quite concerned about display fireworks getting into the hands of civilians, but not at all about actual safety of the workers at the facility.  We never saw any ATF expertise until AFTER our disaster, and the local authorities throughout were clueless.

Patrick Wasbotten
Patrick Wasbotten

like my Grandpa used to say, "shouldn't be poking around out there"

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