2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 28 Oct 2003 18:26:14 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Army Burning Debate Persists
Army Burning Debate Persists
By Sukhjit Purewal, spurewal@montereyherald.com
Posted on Tue, Oct. 28, 2003

The Fort Ord burn came close to dying out Monday, but it remained
clouded in controversy as thick as Friday's smoke.

Federal officials have said little so far about why the prescribed burn
outran its boundaries and threatened homes in Seaside and why heavy
smoke wafted into residential areas from Seaside to Pebble Beach on what
was supposed to be a nearly ideal day for a controlled burn.

With numerous Peninsula residents complaining of red eyes, heavy coughs
and various other other reactions, many area residents are awaiting word
from the military about the amount of toxic substances released into the

The Army contracted with one of the nation's largest engineering
concerns, Mactec Engineering & Consulting of Alpharetta, Ga., to test
the smoke at 15 locations Friday for a long list of materials, including
heavy metals. Results, however, aren't expected to be ready for at least
a few months.

According to Mactec's monitoring plan, the company believed that
insignificant amounts of toxins would be released into the air even if
the fire ignited large quantities of buried munitions.

Friday's burn was supposed to cover 490 acres but grew to some 1,470
acres and came perilously close to Seaside homes along Gen. Jim Moore
Boulevard six hours after it was scheduled to be extinguished.

After a five-year lull in controlled burns at the former Army base, the
fire was the first of a series of annual burns intended to clear thick
brush. Clearing the brush will allow workers to safely search for
unexploded ordnance on the 8,000-acre "multi-range area," once the site
of heavy target practice.

The 490-acre burn site is scheduled to be turned over to the U.S. Bureau
of Land Management for use as wildlife habitat. Though it won't be
developed, federal officials say the land must be cleared of explosives
because the base is publicly accessible and the 490 acres will be public

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