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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

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The State of Ohio and U.S. Army have reached agreement on a plan to clear areas near the former Erie Army Depot of military munitions.

Under the agreement, the Army will conduct investigations along the Lake Erie shoreline to locate munitions used during past operations at the depot and former Locust Point anti-aircraft artillery site and from the impact area of an operating range.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency will also be involved in the work, scheduled to start in 2011.

“Recent finds of 3.5-inch rockets and other munitions exposed by receding waters only reinforce the need to address this area, thus making it safer for residents, visitors, and future generations,” said Chris Korleski, Ohio EPA director.

He descried the situation at the site near Port Clinton as a “legacy problem of munitions associated with the former Erie Army Depot.” 

The Army will propose a plan for addressing the problem after reviewing results of the investigation, including possibly removing the munitions, upgrading access controls, and holding safety programs on explosives for anyone living or working in the areas where there are suspected munitions.

The impact area currently used by the Ohio Army National Guard won’t be included in the investigation.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also plans to assess the potential hazards by munitions that may be present at the former impact areas where ARES, Inc. is now located and the former Locust Point area near where the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station is located, and West Sister Island.

The Erie Army Depot operated from 1918 to 1967. Test firing was conducted at three ranges covering dry land, wetlands, and Lake Erie.

The agreement states the response actions are subject to the availability of funds. It is an attempt to resolve an on-going dispute between the Ohio EPA and Corps of Engineers and the Corps’ decision in 2007 to suspend its removal efforts until other potentially liable parties were investigated to determine if they should contribute to any response plan.

In early December, 2009, the Corps announced it had completed removal of about 11.5 tons of munitions debris from the beach area near the former depot.

During its final removal in November, 223 items found were destroyed and later determined to not contain an explosive hazard.

The Lake Erie Impact Area had covered 96,000 acres but 60,000 were closed, leaving 36,000 acres in the range still in use.

The Corps and EPA said anyone who finds suspected munitions should not touch it and call 911.

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