Beale cleanup reveals little live munitions
An extremely small amount of unexploded munitions has been found in the first phase of the cleanup of the old Camp Beale area in Nevada and Yuba counties.
How the small amount will affect the proposed minicity Yuba Highlands project with its 15,000 projected residents is unknown. But it does not look at this point that many, if any, live World War II shells are lurking at the development site north and east of Beale Air Force Base.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is conducting the cleanup for liability and public safety reasons. No one has been injured by any of the old explosive ordnance found.
Infinitesimal amounts were also found on the 65,000 acres north, south and west of the current Air Force base that once made up Camp Beale. It was used extensively as World War II training grounds, then abandoned by the U.S. Army and sold to individuals in the 1950s.
According to project engineer Buzz Barton of Earth Tech Inc., only one fully intact 20 mm projectile was found by electromagnetic machines that identified metal objects in the acreage, that one near Camp Far West Reservoir. About three to four other pieces found buried were deemed hazardous in that southern area of the old base because they still had some explosives attached to them.
That was also the case in the eastern zone of the site near the Spenceville Wildlife Management and Recreation Area and in the northern zone, where most of the Yuba Highlands property is. The Union was unable to locate Yuba Highlands developer Gary Gallelli for comment.
Barton said the Army apparently picked up a lot of what was left over on the ground from the war in three human sweeps of the acreage in the 1950s. The amount found so far at Beale is extremely low compared to other military sites his firm has cleaned up.
“I’ve been on ranges where there was more live stuff than not,” Barton said. “It’s kind of surprising (at Beale) with all the training they did here.”
Barton said the company dug up 8,950 of the 23,155 metal objects it located, and about one-fourth of those were military related. Most of that fourth was shell fragments and casings. Some of it was full shells that were all metal or had no fuses or explosives in them.
The final report on the cleanup will be done in November, according to Peter Broderick, project manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. A second phase of the project will further identify what is in the ground to determine further safety concerns.
Broderick said the war in Iraq and Hurricane Katrina efforts have stalled funding for the project and left it unfunded for six months already. Because of that, Broderick said he did not know when the phase three final cleanup portion of the project will be complete.
To contact senior staff writer Dave Moller, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4237.
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