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Army investigating ordnance found in driveway material
Yahoo News ^ | 2/15/2004 | Steve Goldstein

Posted on 02/26/2005 11:51:15 AM PST by Excuse_My_Bellicosity

WASHINGTON - Prepare to be shell-shocked: Ordnance experts are scrambling to defuse driveways that have the potential to explode.

The U.S. Army is investigating incidents of unexploded World War I-era munitions showing up in clamshells used as paving material for driveways and parking areas in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.

The ordnance was dredged up over the past 18 months from the ocean floor during mechanical clam harvesting operations off the New Jersey coast, in the vicinity of Atlantic City, according to Robert Williams of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is conducting the probe.

More than 300 munitions - mostly British and French-made hand grenades but at least one 75 mm projectile containing a chemical agent - have been recovered from 18 driveways and a Delaware clam-processing plant, Williams said.

Some grenades were actually found inside the clams.

Last February, a Bridgeville, Del., resident discovered 32 corroded - but live - hand grenades while spreading crushed clamshells delivered to his property. Subsequent similar discoveries triggered the investigation.

The Army Corps of Engineers is examining at least 100 driveways, Williams said.

No homeowners have been injured, but three servicemen from an explosive ordnance unit at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware were hospitalized last July while detonating the projectile, which contained potentially lethal mustard gas.

Either the Army or the Navy dumped the ordnance at sea, Williams said, but the investigation's chief priority is not how and why the material got there, but where it is located. The harvesting was done about 20 miles offshore.

"It's something that happened 60-70 years ago," said Williams, project director in the Corps' Baltimore district. "Right now our main focus is not who did it but where this stuff came from and where it went.

"We're worried about kids playing kick the ball in the driveway," he said.

The investigation has already cost almost $6 million and could eventually cost more than twice that much, Williams said. A report is due in the next six weeks.

Although Williams said the Army has "accepted responsibility" for the mollusk munitions, the Navy may have transported the ordnance out to sea.

"We don't know," said Navy spokesperson Lt. Erin Bailey. "We have no records and there's no one I can ask. The Navy is prohibited by law from dumping munitions into the ocean."

Ocean dumping of munitions and other materials is illegal without a permit from the Environmental Protection Agency (news - web sites), according to the 1972 Ocean Dumping Act.

"We don't know if such dumping was regulated before 1972," said EPA spokesman David Ryan.

The ordnance recovered thus far consists mainly of French grenades and British Mark II hand grenades that resemble small pineapples.

As to why foreign munitions were dumped by the U.S. military off the New Jersey coast, Williams said: "That's a good question. We were friends with them at the time."

The main clam processing plant in Delaware is run by Sea Watch International Ltd. In October, Sea Watch was fined $9,000 by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (news - web sites) for exposing their employees "to explosion, skin contact and inhalation hazards" from the harvested ordnance.

Sea Watch officials declined to comment.

Typically, Williams said, a dredging company would put the haul in a holding container aboard ship and then transfer it to a steel cage, known as a "load," to be placed on the dock. The loads are taken to a processing plant, where pressure is applied to force out the clam meat, juice and shells.

The shells are further crushed and sold to hauling companies for use in driveways and parking lots.

Locating exactly where in the ocean the questionable quahogs were dredged has proven difficult.

"These companies don't like to reveal a good fisheries location," said Williams.

Crushed clamshells are sought by poultry farmers and homeowners for driveways along the Delmarva peninsula because the material is inexpensive.

TOPICS: News/Current Events; US: Delaware; US: District of Columbia; US: New Jersey; US: Virginia
KEYWORDS: kaboom; ordnance; wwi
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To: bikerman

LOL...cherrystones are safe. Nice and tender and too small to swallow a grenade. They're planted bayside anyway.

41 posted on 02/26/2005 2:50:51 PM PST by cake_crumb (Leftist Credo: "One Wing to Rule Them all and to the Dark Side Bind Them")
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To: Blurblogger


42 posted on 02/26/2005 3:46:40 PM PST by null and void (They aren't character flaws, they're character embellishments...)
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To: Professional Engineer

Pre-designated potholes?

43 posted on 02/26/2005 4:03:49 PM PST by SAMWolf (I came. I saw. I stole your tagline.)
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To: Blurblogger
44 posted on 02/26/2005 5:45:42 PM PST by Valin (DARE to be average!)
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To: null and void; Goodgirlinred; ValerieUSA; Liz; Velveeta; missyme; PilloryHillary; Lazamataz; ...

Smoother than "Original Kraft Brand Velveeta" on a Mil-Surplus driveway in August! LOL

Note to Laz: Post #34 is how FReepeRomance is done. At least that's what the Moose told me ...

"Baby, You Can Drive My Car..."

45 posted on 02/26/2005 6:46:34 PM PST by The Spirit Of Allegiance (ATTN. MARXIST RED MSM: I RESENT your "RED STATE" switcheroo using our ELECTORAL MAP as PROPAGANDA!)
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To: Blurblogger
Let's fix him up with MoDo. I so want her to have someone to go out with so she can have some fun! I like cheese. My dad was from Wisconsin. :) Aren't you married? I don't go out with married men!
46 posted on 02/26/2005 6:54:47 PM PST by Goodgirlinred ( GoodGirlInRed Four More Years!!!!!)
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To: Goodgirlinred

I'm single...a FReeper Household of one. Meet me in the deli section by the American cheese! ;)

47 posted on 02/26/2005 7:10:12 PM PST by The Spirit Of Allegiance (ATTN. MARXIST RED MSM: I RESENT your "RED STATE" switcheroo using our ELECTORAL MAP as PROPAGANDA!)
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To: Blurblogger
LOL! Ok. I will see you there! I can't wait. :)
48 posted on 02/26/2005 7:21:38 PM PST by Goodgirlinred ( GoodGirlInRed Four More Years!!!!!)
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To: Tijeras_Slim; cake_crumb
Yup - up until a few years ago it was very common here - my grandfather's long lane was mostly clamshells.

In fact in the town I live in (Denton) there was an old plant that manufactured clothing buttons by punching them out of the shells. Its parking lot (it's now an office building) is the only one with clamshells now that I know of.

49 posted on 02/26/2005 8:43:54 PM PST by Heatseeker ("I sort of like liberals now. They’re kind of cute when they’re shivering and afraid." - Ann Coulter)
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To: cake_crumb

When I was a navy squid living in Hampton, VA they were always finding unexploded bombs and grenades at Buckroe Beach. It was usually in the springtime.

50 posted on 02/27/2005 6:55:10 AM PST by Excuse_My_Bellicosity (Please leave a message after the burp....)
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To: Blurblogger


51 posted on 02/28/2005 10:11:07 AM PST by Velveeta
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