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Unexploded munititions to be removed

October 02, 2000|By SCOTT BUTKI

Unexploded munititions to be removed



A contractor for the U.S. Army will in the spring begin examining about 250 acres at Fort Ritchie to clean up any ordnance on the property, an Army official said Monday.

The cleanup by IT Corp. of Edgewood, Md., is expected to take three years, said Bill Hofmann, the Base Realignment and Closure environmental coordinator.

Raymond Fatz, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for environmental safety and occupational health, signed the document Friday authorizing the start of the cleanup efforts, Hofmann said.

The agreement is a big step in dealing with the problem of "unexploded ordnance," remnants of the Maryland National Guard's pre-1926 use of the base, that may be below the surface on as much as half of the base's 638 acres.

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On about 100 acres, the contractor will dig to a depth of 4 feet in search of ordnance, Hofmann said. Workers will dig to a depth of about 1 foot on another 150 acres, he said.

Backhoes and metal detectors will be used for the job, and some digging will be by hand to enable workers to sift through the dirt and remove metallic objects, whether munitions or trash can lids, Hofmann said.

He said he did not know how much the cleanup will cost.

The work should not affect tenants at the base, according to Hofmann. If for some reason tenants need to be moved or evacuated, it would be for a minimal amount of time, he said.

Hofmann said the agreement should help resolve some property transfer issues with PenMar Development Corp., which was created to transform the base into a technology and business training center.

James A. LaFleur, PenMar's executive director, has said redevelopment efforts have been put on hold because of the munitions issue.

LaFleur said Monday he would read and review the agreement before he could comment on it.

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