Thursday, February 25, 2010

Current Research Project-1943 Explosion at the Yorktown Mine Depot

On November 16, 1943, the equivalent of 150,000 pounds of T.N.T. exploded at the Yorktown Mine Depot (now known as the Yorktown Weapons Station), causing a hole 15 feet deep and over 500 feet wide. Six workers, mostly civilian African-American workers, died in the incident. Ground zero for this explosion was a cool down and transportation warehouse known as “P-2.” Here civillian workers recieved assembled mines, torpedo warheads, and bombs fresh from the production lines in nearby buildings and allowed the orndnace cool off, before shipping them off to the Fleet and the Army Air Corps.

Of particular concern to the investigators was the high tech and very new explosive mixture known as Torpex, which was 50% more powerful than T.N.T. by itself. At one point in the war, Yorktown manufactured over 2,000,000 pounds a month of this highly sought after explosive and was the first facility in the United States to produce it.Also of concern was the possibility that one of the P-2 workers was a Nazi agent as the FBI found evidence that worker took thousand of dollars in bribes and read extremist political material in his spare time.

The full story will be published in the next issue of The Daybook.

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