Wednesday, June 3, 2009

WWII-era ordnance detonated at Camp Withycombe

An explosives team from EMAC Environmental detonates a WWII-era 37mm projectile at Camp Withycombe, June 3. The ordnance was found at the state facility during ongoing soil remediation and restoration efforts.

Just when the dust settled at Camp Withycombe following a groundbreaking ceremony for a new building late last week, and filming for the television show Leverage on Monday, explosive ordnance teams brought the post back into the spotlight.

A 37mm projectile was found after an environmental project walk through of the east hillside near the posts' old rifle range. Crews determined that the live ordnance should be detonated in-place.

The area where the projectile was found is a former practice range dating back prior to 1906, and has been the site of an environmental clean up project which utilized mining technology to separate lead bullets from the soil.

Left: Jim Arnold, Restoration Manager for the Oregon Military Department, inspects chunks of ordnance found at the old rifle range at Camp Withycombe.

"As we continue to clean and inspect this area we anticipate finding old ordnance from the past," said Jim Arnold, Restoration Manager for the Oregon Military Department's Environmental Branch.

According to the demolition team from EMAC Environmental, the first "shot" failed to completely destroy the projectile, so they set another, bigger charge.

Arnold said today's blast is part of a continual restoration effort, and it's likely other ordnance may be found which will require similar methods of disposal.

As if his statement foretold the future, the second explosion destroyed the original projectile, but uncovered a second, similar piece of ordnance in the blast crater.

The EOD team set a third charge, which ultimately destroyed the second projectile.

"Certainly our goal is to restore this land to a point where the Oregon Military Department can say we've met the rules administered by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality," Arnold said.

The area is part of the planned Sunset Corridor Freeway project, Arnold said. While the freeway is still in the planning stages, a section of the project will cut through the former practice range.

Posted by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy,
Oregon National Guard Social Media Manager

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