July 26, 2007

Corps of Engineers Plans Cleanup of Leftover, Unexploded Ordnance


By Jeff Hampton

The Virginian-Pilot

From 1944 to 1965, Navy aircraft swooped low over the Currituck Sound with a mission to blast targets on the Currituck Outer Banks.

Now the Army Corps of Engineers plans to clean up leftover unexploded ordnance lying where wild horses roam and near beaches where people swim and fish .

Rockets, bombs and machine-gun ammunition lie within 182 acres in the Monkey Island Tract , part of the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge , about a mile north of Corolla, N.C. No injuries have been reported there, but some of the ordnance is dangerous, said Bob Keistler, project manager for the Wilmington District of the corps .

A public information meeting is planned today from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Corolla branch of the Currituck County Public Library.

After public input, the corps plans to hire a contractor to comb the site with metal detectors and remove dangerous ordnance, Keistler said. The project could take years to finish.

The Monkey Island Tract is about a mile wide and a mile across . People often use the beach, but the area west of the dunes is seldom traveled except by Corolla wild horses.

Between 1992 and 1998, a 176-acre target site in Duck was cleaned of more than 25 tons of ordnance. The corps' Field Research Facility sits on the site now. The corps has cleared or plans to clear more than 3,000 sites nationwide that were used for training and testing by the military, according to a corps Web site.

The cleanup program, started in the mid-1980s, has cost $3.9 billion through 2006 .

Jeff Hampton, (252) 338-0159,

[email protected]

(c) 2007 Virginian - Pilot. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.