Scrapyard Worker Dead After Cutting into 500-Pound Bomb with a Torch

Tucson News Now/screenshot
Tucson News Now/screenshot
Tucson, AZ

On September 23, a scrapyard worker at Tucson Iron & Metal was killed after the torch he was using caused a 500-pound bomb to detonate.

The bomb was an MK82, which the General Dynamics website describes as the smallest of the MK80 “tactical” bombs used by the U.S. Air Force & Navy.

According to Tucson News Now, “bomb squad investigators and ordnance experts [said] the explosion involved a highly explosive substance that would normally be used in conjunction with a primer to cause the bomb to explode.” The primer that is normally used to cause the bomb to explode had been removed, so the explosion was “significantly smaller than what would’ve happened” had the bomb exploded in its normal capacity.

Nevertheless, the explosion was large enough to kill 46-year-old Daniel Wright around 12:45 pm when he cut into the bomb.

The question now is: How did such a bomb end up in a scrapyard in Tucson, Arizona?

The Arizona Daily Star reports that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has already sent a letter to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter regarding the bomb. In it, McCain wrote:

It is imperative for the Department of Defense to explain how this unexploded ordnance made its way into a civilian place of business. As a matter of national security, as well for the safety of the American public, this issue demands appropriate attention by the Department’s senior leadership.

Tucson police say the scrapyard was temporarily closed following the explosion, and the property was searched to be sure no other ordnance was present. Davis-Monthan Air Force Base spokeswoman 1st Lt. Erin Ranaweera made clear that the base does not take ordnance to civilian yards. She said, “We do not move our ordnances. Ordnances are not metal to be reused for recycling.”

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