Buried 500-pound bombs found at Ravenna Arsenal
May 21, 2009
By Mike Sever
Record-Courier staff writer
When a white phosphorus rifle grenade detonated at a
disposal area within the former Ravenna Arsenal in 2007, it was the tip-off to
a new potentially explosive problem.
Now, evidence of at least three 500-pound general purpose
bombs and a 105 mm projectile have been found in the area, known as Rocket
On Wednesday, the Restoration Advisory Board of the former
Army ammunition plant east of Ravenna learned of plans to survey the 80- by 90-foot area
to determine the type and number of suspect munitions, and how to deal with
Brian Stockwell of PIKA International said it is not known
if the munitions are dangerous, or if there are more in the site adjacent to
Rocket Ridge is a hillside within an open demolition area
used in the 1940s and ’50s to burn out or detonate defective and
off-specification munitions made at the arsenal. The
“demilitarized” munitions were then dumped over the hillside.
Stockwell said the area looks “like an upside down
hippopotamus” and may be four or five feet deep. He said it is
“highly possible” more bombs will be discovered in the pile.
The arsenal made about 60,000 aerial bombs during World
War II, sized from 100 to 2,000 pounds, said Mark Patterson, U.S. Army
co-chairman of the RAB.
Plans are to determine if the 500-pound bombs are fuzed.
If not, they can be removed, Stockwell said.
“The consensus is they probably aren’t,”
If they are, it would have to be determined how best to
deal with them.
An exploding 500-pound bomb, with about 200 pounds of high
explosive, has a fragmentation radius of about 2,500 feet, Stockwell said,
still well within the arsenal boundary.
Rocket Ridge was discovered in 2004. Before the corroded
white phosphorus grenade self-ignited in 2007, it was believed the site
contained no dangerous munitions, Patterson said. There were no injuries in
Plans are to deal with the known bombs and projectile and
then survey the area later this year and determine what else is on the site. A
contract to clean up the site next year would follow.
Before the three weeks of field work and investigation can
begin, Stockwell said it will take about a week to build an access road to the
site and a week to remove vegetation.
In other business, the RAB was updated on asbestos and munition
debris clean up work at the Winklepeck Burning Ground which has now been turned
into a firing range by the Ohio Army National Guard.
About 7,300 cubic yards of soil and about 10 tons of metal
debris were removed.
Laura Olah, Executive
Citizens for Safe
Water Around Badger (CSWAB)
E12629 Weigand's Bay
Merrimac, WI 53561