Report On Apg Blast May Be 6 Months From Release

March 24, 1991|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff writer

Army investigators looking into the explosion that killed two workers at Aberdeen Proving Ground on March 15 may not issue a report on the incident for at least six months, an Army spokesman said last week.

Investigators from APG and the U.S. Army Safety Center at Fort Rucker, Ala., are expected to be at the scene of the explosion throughout this week to determine a cause, said Lt. Col. Brian McWilliams, spokesman for the safety center.

Norman L. Barcase, 40, of Abingdon, and John Zielinski, 41, of Aberdeen, were killed in the explosion at APG's East Ammunition Assembly Plant.

Memorial services for Barcase and Zielinski were conducted Wednesday.

The ammunition assembly plant has been shut down for the investigation, McWilliams said. Army officials are not sure how long the plant will be closed.

McWilliams said it usually takes the safety center between six and 10 months to complete its investigation, which will be detailed in what they call a "safety inspection report."

John Yaquiant, an APG spokesman, said the Army might have a preliminary report on the explosion late this week. He said he is notsure if that report will be made public.

Barcase and Zielinski were civilian employees for the Army's Combat Systems Test Activity. Barcase, who spent 20 years in the Army, had worked at APG for about 15years. Zielinski had worked at the proving ground for about two months.

The men were killed when an explosion occurred as they were "uploading" extra propellant into a 45-pound, 40-inch shell, APG officials said. Uploading involves taking apart munitions.

The additional nitroglycerin-based propellant would have given the shell the required pressure for test-firing, officials said. That type of shell has been used at the proving ground in firing tests of a new, lightweighttank gun, the Army said.

The proving ground has suspended uploading procedures similar to the one that killed Barcase and Zielinski, but will continue testing munitions that don't require alterations before firing, Army officials said.

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