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Ordnance removal begins in June

April 04, 2001

Ordnance removal begins in June



By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

kimy@herald-mail.com

CASCADE - About 50 people heard from military and environmental officials Tuesday about plans to remove unexploded ordnance and clean up Fort Ritchie.

IT Group of Edgewood, Md. was contracted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Army to remove the unexploded mortars, bombs and rockets at the 638-acre base.

"We're looking forward to the revitalization of the Cascade community," said Jennifer Gaskill, community relations manager for IT Group, at the public meeting at the Cascade American Legion.

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IT Group will start the removal in June and expects to complete the project within three years, Gaskill said.

The ordnance is on a 208-acre section of the former U.S. Army base that has been targeted for business development.

Working in three teams, crews will use metal detectors to find the explosives and then dig up the material by hand or using machines.

Precautionary measures will be taken and the ordnance will be detonated on site, she said.

The crews will dig to a depth of 4 feet on 94 acres that is developed or intended for commercial use, said Gaskill.

That portion is expected to take one year to complete, she said.

Over the final two years of the project, IT Group will remove ordnance to a depth of one foot across portions of the wooded mountainside and mountaintop covering 114 acres, she said.

When the cleanup is finished, that portion of the property will be transferred to PenMar Development Corp., she said.

IT Group expects to find 3-inch Stokes mortars, 5cm German bombs and 2.36-inch rockets.

IT Group will compile a mailing list of concerned residents and send them regular updates, she said. An Internet site or phone line may also be set up.

Christopher Evans of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said there were three areas at the base where hazardous chemicals were found: at the golf course near the main gate, near lakes Royer and Wastler and at the administration building in the southeastern section of the post.

The contaminant levels at the golf course and man-made lakes did not pose a risk to people, Evans said.

Arsenic was found in the soil near the Administration building, Evans said. The chemical was removed and the property is not dangerous, he said.

During a question and answer period, Cascade resident Karl Weissenbach and Mary Cantwell of Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., both asked whether water downstream would be affected by the contaminants in the lakes' sediment.

Evans said there would be no danger to other bodies of water.

Residents also questioned whether the water would be suitable for swimming. Evans said that it would.

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