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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

News Release

Nashville Field Division

For Immediate Release

Saturday, April 19, 2014
Contact: PIO Michael Knight

ATF NRT Concludes Investigation of Rio Ammunition

McEWEN, Tenn. — The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) announced their preliminary findings in the Rio Ammunition manufacturing incident. The ATF National Response Team (NRT) has deemed the incident as non-criminal in nature and has classified it as an industrial accidental explosion. The explosion occurred in the area of the mezzanine that fed the loading machine that resulted in the death of one employee and the injury of three other employees. On Thursday, the NRT, led by Central Region Team Supervisor Steve Cordle, joined the explosives investigation into the Rio Ammunition manufacturing plant. The NRT along with agents from the Nashville Field Office and the Tennessee Bomb and Arson Section processed the scene in order to determine the cause of the incident. The incident caused considerable monetary damage, and resulted in the injury of three individuals and the death of one individual. Humphreys County Sheriff Chris Davis stated, “Condolences are with the Edwards family during this traumatic event. The community suffered a great loss due to this devastating incident. I am proud of the immediate response from both Hickman and Humphreys County emergency personnel. The willingness of everyone to work together to move swiftly to determine the cause will allow closure to the Edwards family, those who were injured as well as their coworkers” The NRT, along with ATF special agents from the Nashville Field Division and the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office-Bomb and Arson Section responded with the Humphreys County Sherriff’s Office and other first responders. The Hickman County Sheriffs Office, Humphreys County Emergency Management Agency and the respective fire departments assisted with the investigation. “ATF is committed to working alongside its state and local partners, bringing its expertise to determine the origin and cause of the explosion, and provide whatever resources necessary to thoroughly investigate and provide answers,” said ATF Nashville Field Division Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey L. Fulton. In 1978, ATF developed the NRT to bring its expertise to federal, state and local investigators in meeting the challenges faced at the scenes of significant explosives and arson incidents. The NRT consists of four teams organized geographically to cover the United States. Each team can respond within 24 hours to assist state and local law enforcement/fire service personnel in onsite investigations. The teams are each composed of veteran special agents who have post-blast and fire origin-and-cause expertise, forensic chemists, explosives enforcement officers, fire protection engineers, accelerant detection canines, explosives detection canines, intelligence support, computer forensic support, and audit support. The teams work alongside state and local officers in reconstructing the scene, identifying the seat of the blast or origin of the fire, conducting interviews, and sifting through debris to obtain evidence related to the bombing/arson. Further complementing the teams’ efforts are technical, legal, and intelligence advisers. Moreover, a fleet of fully equipped response vehicles strategically located throughout the United States is available to provide logistical support. This is the 6th NRT activation in fiscal year 2014 and the 753st since its inception. In addition to investigating hundreds of scenes, the NRT has also been activated to scenes such as the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the Oklahoma City federal building bombing and the Sept. 11, 2001, Pentagon crash site, West Texas explosion, as well as blasts at explosives and ammunition manufacturing plants, legal fireworks factories and illegal explosive device manufacturing operations. The NRT recently activated in February 2014 to the Chemring manufacturing explosion in Toone, Tenn. More information on ATF can be found at www.atf.gov.

Field Division: Nashville Field Division