A 55-year-old man killed in an explosion at the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant was identified Wednesday as Lawrence Bass of Blue Springs.
The explosion happened Tuesday afternoon in a primer manufacturing building at the facility in Independence. Four other workers were injured. They were evaluated at the scene and refused treatment.
“The entire Lake City Army Ammunition Plant community continues to hold the family of Mr. Bass in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time,” officials said in a statement.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has summoned its national explosive response team to help local investigators determine what caused the explosion. The plant was closed following the incident.
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Bass was an employee for Orbital ATK, a civilian contractor that operated the plant.
According to a 2007 obituary, Bass’ 16-year-old son, LeAnthony Bass, died in February of that year.
On Wednesday, the Bass family issued the following statement: “We are devastated, in disbelief and heartbroken for the loss of a son, brother, our father and grandfather. We are thankful for the many prayers and ask for the respect of the media during our time of mourning. Thank you - Bass Family.”
U.S. Congressman Emanuel Clever II also issued a statement Wednesday: “My heart goes out to the families of Mr. Lawrence Bass and the other victims of the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant explosion. The men and women who perform these dangerous jobs do so to ensure our national security. May God be with them.”
Workers were mixing the compounds used for small-caliber ammunition. Primer mixing is a part of that process.
“Since it was an explosive incident of some kind, from a safety standpoint we have to make sure it is a scene that is in a position that we can go in and do scene work without the fear of further explosions,” said Jon Ham, ATF spokesman.
The national explosive response team is the same group that investigated the 2015 blaze that killed Kansas City firefighters John Mesh and Larry Leggio.
The team includes fire explosive specialists and chemical explosive investigators. A total of 30 investigators will begin sifting through the debris and other damage caused by the explosion, Ham said.
The plant provides small-caliber munitions and operates the NATO’s test center. Established in December 1940, it began production a year later.
It has been operated since 2000 by Orbital ATK and its predecessor companies ATK Armament Systems and Alliant Techsystems Inc.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the company for workplace safety issues in 2008, 2011 and 2012.