Buckeye Ordnance Works

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


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

Operations of the Ordnance Works began in 1943 and produced ammonium nitrate explosives for the United States military. 1 2 After combat operations in the global conflict ended, the Ordnance Works was purchased by Allied Chemical. The facility was retrofitted to produce ammonia, urea, nitrogen fertilizer, melamine, formaldehyde, and urea-formaldehyde until 1978.

Ashland Incorporated acquired the complex in 1979 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 converted 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 began production of liquid carbon dioxide in 1985.

Both South Point Ethanol and Cardox ceased operations at South Point in 1995. 1 Air Liquide continued to use the site for liquid carbon dioxide storage and transfer until January 1997.

Work began in 2004 on the demolition and repurposing of several older structures relating to Ashland and South Point Ethanol, replaced by The Point, a new industrial park. 2

Power Plant

In 1999, South Point Biomass acquired the former South Point Ethanol coal-fired power plant to convert the facility to burn wood and tobacco waste and generate 200 MW of electricity. 4 The project fell through, with the owners blaming the economic downturn in 2008 among other factors. The company began cutting pipes and other materials out of the power plant for scrap metal beginning in 2011 but did not follow proper asbestos removal procedures and dumped the hazardous, cancer-causing material on the ground. Federal EPA testing discovered 224,000 square feet of asbestos scattered throughout the interior of the building, along the building’s exterior, and in a nearby pond.

The cleanup of the power plant by the EPA began in August 2019. 4 5

The owner of South Point Biomass, Mark Harris, pleaded to one count of violating the Clean Air Act for knowingly failing to remove asbestos from the power plant, and was sentenced in September to two days in prison, 58 days of house arrest, and 200 hours of community service. 5



  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.
  4. Shaffer, Mark. “EPA to begin Biomass cleanup: Asbestos, contaminated soil to be removed from former powerhouse.” Ironton Tribune, 7 Aug. 2019.
  5. Shaffer, Mark. “Biomass owner comments on sentencing: Harris was sentenced to jail time for failure to remove asbestos.” Ironton Tribune, 7 Sept. 2019.

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