The Buckeye Ordnance Works, in operation for only three years during World War II in South Point, Ohio, manufactured ammonium nitrate explosives. The complex was later used in the production of agricultural products, bio-fuel, and various chemicals.

World War II spurred development of several ammunitions factories and suppliers across the United States. In early 1942, construction began on the Atmospheric Nitrogen Corporation, also known as Buckeye Ordnance Works.3 The city and plant, as well as nearby Ironton, were placed within the Industrial Defense Zone.

Operations began in 1943, producing ammonium nitrate explosives for the United States military.1 2 After combat operations in World War II ceased, the plant was purchased by Allied Chemical Incorporated and the factory produced ammonia, urea, nitrogen fertilizer, melamine, formaldehyde and urea formaldehyde until 1978.

Ashland Incorporated purchased the complex in the following year and proceeded to demolish many of the existing structures.1 In its place, Ashland constructed a coal-water fuel pilot plant and a pitch prilling test plant that formed pitch into small pellets.

South Point Ethanol acquired an 80-acre tract of land in the center of the former production area for ethanol production in 1981.1 Air Liquide Corporation’s division, Cardox, leased a section of the South Point Ethanol tract and proceeded to produce liquid carbon dioxide in 1985. The entire Buckeye Ordnance Works site was listed as a 610-acre Superfund site, noted under the National Priorities List of September 1984. There was extensive soil and groundwater contamination from decades of industrial production.

Both South Point Ethanol and Cardox ceased operations at South Point in 1995.1 Air Liquide Corp. continued to use the site for liquid carbon dioxide storage and transfer until January 1997.1 Part of the ethanol plant grounds were used for a biofuel plant in 2000, but the facility was closed almost as soon as it had opened due to numerous environmental violations.2 These violations were related to the storage and handling of tobacco and wood waste. Work began in 2004 on the demolition and repurposing of several older structures, and the construction of new facilities as part of The Point, an industrial park.

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  1. United States. Environmental Protection Agency. “History of Contamination.” First Five-Year Review Report for the South Point Superfund Site. 4-5. 31 Dec. 2008 PDF.
  2. Herald-Dispatch (Huntington) 28 Oct. 2004. 6 Jan. 2007 Article.
  3. “Buckeye Ordnance, 1942.” Story of the Glorious Past, One Hundred Years. N.p.: n.p., 1949. 46.