COLONIAL HEIGHTS (WRIC) - For months, social media has been lighting up about a string of mysterious booms echoing throughout the Tri-Cities.
People from Colonial Heights to Chesterfield to Prince George were all wondering what was going on.
The person behind the loud and sometimes frightening noise is Chesterfield resident Justin Watkins.
Watkins says the explosion happens when two separate powders are mixed and shaken to produce an explosive substance called Tannerite. It can be bought at most local sporting goods stores and can be bought in bulk online. Its main use is for target practice.
"We're been doing it for months, shooting them for at least the last 2-3 months," Watkins says.
Watkins says he has heard the complaints, but says the explosions aren't causing any damage.
"We hear the complaints, and people come up with bogus comments… it rattles their windows…. breaks their foundations and everything like that," he says. "Unless your within a couple hundred yards I don't see where it can do any damage like that."
But, many are asking if the substance is considered an explosive, how is it legal.
Gary Bangs with the ATF says he has personally seen the Watkins video and it doesn't appear any Federal Explosive Laws are being broken, as long as they don't transport the substance once it is mixed together.
"Under the Federal Explosive Laws, it's not considered an explosive until it's mixed together so when it's sold it's really just like two chemicals," Bangs says. "Once they have mixed it together and it has become an explosive, then they would not be able to transport that on the road without having a permit."
Watkins says he is confident what he is doing is safe and legal.
"Nobody's been trying to hide it, but people have just been coming up with weird comments and all these crazy excuses," he says. "I'm not scared. I am not doing anything wrong so I figured why don't we show them what we are doing?"
Chesterfield Police sent a statement saying they've talked with Watkins, and found no violation of county ordinances, including zoning restrictions. They say they got between 15 and 20 phone calls on Saturday when Watkins exploded the 20 pound Tannerite target.
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