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Discarded ammo leads to small explosion on Gate City trash truck

Wes Bunch • May 22, 2013 at 9:43 PM

GATE CITY — An employee with Gate City’s Public Works Department received an unwelcome surprise last week when live ammunition exploded in the back of a town waste disposal truck.

As a result of the incident, the Gate City Police Department is reminding area residents to refrain from throwing unwanted ammunition in with the household trash.

“We just want to request that all citizens please consider the danger they are creating when they discard ammo of any type,” Gate City Police Chief Kim Birchfield said.

The incident happened last week and was reported to police Wednesday morning by town officials.

Town officials were unsure of the amount of ammunition involved, but Birchfield said it was enough to cause a small explosion on the truck when the trash was compacted.

“We don’t have anyway of knowing (how much ammo) was in there,” Birchfield said. “We didn’t know it was even in their until it exploded when it was compacted. The metal likely hit the firing mechanism in the shell and caused it to go off.

“We have determined that it was shotgun ammo though.”

Birchfield said the ammo was likely no longer wanted and its owner simply threw it away instead of taking the proper measures to dispose of it.

No one was injured, and no property damage was reported, as a result of the explosion.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that it was just someone discarding old ammo and they didn’t think about hurting anybody and just threw it in the trash,” Birchfield said. “It’s just a lesson that you don’t discard things that are a public safety hazard by throwing them in the trash.”

Birchfield said there are several ways to properly dispose of ammunition, including shooting it or giving it to someone who can use it to hunt or for target practice.

Local law enforcement can also be contacted to safely discard ammunition if it is no longer fit to use.

“If you’re getting rid of it because it’s old or has that green, moldy color, I wouldn’t suggest giving it to anyone to fire,” Birchfield said. “In that case, call local law enforcement and they’ll come out and pick it up and do away with it in a safe manner.

“If you’re in town call the police department, or if you’re in the county call the sheriff. We’ll be glad to come pick it up.”

To contact the Gate City Police Department, call (276) 386-6363.

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