Jefferson Co. company donates magnetic detectors

October 11, 2007|By DAVE McMILLION

BARDANE, W.Va. - Thirty-four employees at a Jefferson County manufacturing facility are working to make life safer in Asia.

War-torn countries like Lao People's Democratic Republic and Tajikistan must deal with the presence of explosives left over from violence that occurred as long as 40 years ago.

It is estimated that 50 to 100 people are killed every day in the world from "unexploded ordnance" and experts say it will be a long process to remove it all.

Schonstedt Instrument Co. in the Burr Industrial Park is working to speed up the process.

Schonstedt Instrument makes equipment that finds underground utilities and metal objects like land boundary markers used by surveyors.

The magnetic locaters used to find boundary markers also have been successful in finding explosives, according to a Schonstedt news release.


The company has donated 35 detectors to Tajikistan, Kenya, Somalia and the Lao People's Democratic Republic to help with ordnance detection, and during a ceremony at the company headquarters Wednesday, another 15 detectors were donated to Lao People's Democratic Republic.

Lao People's Democratic Republic is a landlocked communist state in southeast Asia next to China.

A long civil war ended when the communist Pathet Lao movement came to power in 1975.

Lao People's Democratic Republic probably has the worst problem with unexploded ordnance, which was left over from war 30 to 40 years ago, said Maxwell Gaylard, director of the United Nations Mine Action Service.

"There is quite an intense effort to address the problem. It is just so big and so daunting," said Gaylard, who attended Wednesday's ceremony.

Looking for ways to grow its business in the area of unexploded ordnance detection, Schonstedt Instrument Co. initiated a promotion to help countries get the equipment they needed to deal with the problem, said Bob Ebberson, director of business development for the company.

Under the promotion plan, any Schonstedt client who purchased one of the company's pipe and cable locators would trigger the company to donate a magnetic locator in the client's name for unexploded ordnance detection, Ebberson said.

The pipe and cable locators range in price from about $2,000 to $3,500; the magnetic locators cost about $1,000, Ebberson said.

Various state, federal and international officials attended the ceremony including Bounnhang Keosavang, first secretary of the Lao People's Democratic Republic embassy in Washington, D.C.

Keosavang quietly thanked those present when the donation was made.

"This is a terrific initiative," Gaylard said.

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