MND pledges to destroy all expired stun grenades following arsenal blast

By Joseph Yeh, The China Post

The China Post–The Ministry of National Defense (MND) yesterday pledged to destroy all expired stun grenades in the wake of a recent deadly arsenal blast that killed three and left another five seriously injured. Deputy Defense Minister Chao Shih-chang (趙世璋) also promised to set up a standard operating procedures (SOP) in destroying ammunition that has passed its expiration date, as the arsenal accident occurred during the destruction of a batch of expired stun grenades. Chao made the comments in response to lawmakers’ demands yesterday during a question-and-answer session in the Legislative Yuan’s National Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee. During the session, ruling Kuomintang (KMT) legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) said the stun grenades that caused the recent blast in Yilan were all manufactured 15 years ago and had long ago passed their five-year shelf life. “The military should not risk their soldiers and employees’ lives in handling these expired ammunitions, which should all be destroyed as soon as possible,” Lin noted. Lin and his colleague Chang Hsien-yao (張顯耀) further pointed out that those seriously injured or killed during the accident were all found to be wearing insufficient protective gear. Lin and Chang jointly called on the MND to amend the loopholes for the safety of related military personnel and make public the findings of the investigation into the incident as soon as possible upon its completion. In response, Chao promised to ask the armed forces to implement the lawmakers’ proposals and establish a SOP to serve as a guideline for others to follow in the future.

Chao and Liu Fu-long (劉復龍), director of the MND’s Armaments Bureau yesterday also reiterated their apology on the ministry’s behalf to the public and to the relatives of the victims for the deadly accident. Three Dead in Arsenal Blast

The accident occurred on Oct. 28 at the 204th Arsenal in northeastern Yilan County’s Yuanshan Township. The explosion initially left seven employees and military personnel with life-threatening burns and one military officer with less severe injuries.

Three of those seriously injured — military officer Lin Chun-hua (林俊鏵) and employees Lin Hsiu-mei (林秀鎂) (not related to the KMT’s Lin) and Chang Lai-fu (張來福) — later died in the hospital.