2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 8 Aug 2003 16:24:52 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Mustard gas dig to begin at airport
North Carolina
Mustard gas dig to begin at airport
By Dennis Hill
August 8, 2003

Digging is expected to start next week at the Laurinburg-Maxton Airport
for what government officials say may be buried drums of mustard gas.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Zapata Engineering, the company
contracted to do the work, have been preparing for the excavation for
several weeks.

The project should be completed within three weeks after digging starts,
said John Baden, a technical project manager for the corps. The
estimated cost of the dig is $850,000. About 17 people will be involved,
including emergency personnel kept at the site by Scotland County
Emergency Management.

There are more than 9,000 former military sites across the country that
have been identified as possibly containing hazardous materials,
according to the corps, which is responsible for cleaning them up.

In North Carolina, there are 182 sites. The Laurinburg- Maxton site is
the only one in the state, Baden said, where chemical contaminants have
been identified as a potential problem. Most of the sites in North
Carolina involve explosives or fuel.

The Laurinburg-Maxton Airport was built in 1942 as a training field for
glider troops. It was dismantled in 1946, and the land was turned over
to the towns of Laurinburg and Maxton.

The government became aware of the possible location of the mustard gas
when the late Robert Fisher, then the mayor of Maxton, told
investigators that, when stationed at the field near the end of World
War II, he helped soldiers bury eight to 10 drums of what was identified
as mustard gas in a trench near the end of a runway. The drums were shot
with a 45-caliber machine gun, Fisher said, before they were buried.

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