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EPA Urges Public to Turn In Munitions

Release Date: 05/25/2006
Contact Information: David Sternberg, (215) 814-5548

PHILADELPHIA - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is urging all citizens who may have picked up unexploded munitions from the Elkton Farm Firehole Site, near Elkton, Md. to call 911.

“We’re concerned that people having unexploded munitions could get seriously hurt,” said Charles Fitzsimmons, EPA’s coordinator of cleanup operations at the Elkton Farm Firehole site. “If you have any unexploded munitions, call 911. Someone will come and get them from you.” Fitzsimmons said no one but trained experts should attempt to dispose of munitions.

When residents call 911 to turn in munitions, trained specialists from the fire or police department will come out and get the items at no cost to residents. EPA became concerned about citizens possessing unexploded munitions when the Ventura County Star reported that earlier this year, a teacher in California had part of his hand blown off by a 40 millimeter round of ammunition. The teacher had found the ammunition several years ago and believed it to be safe. The teacher kept the unexploded ordinance on his desk and one day it exploded when he hit the desk with his hand.

Since February, EPA has been conducting cleanup operations at the Elkton Farm Firehole site, two miles west of Elkton, Md. on Zietler Road. Cleanup crews are using magnetic locators to find metal in soil in the firehole area. When metal is detected, the area is checked to uncover the objects that are there. To date, EPA has found and removed 107 pounds of munitions and 1,033 pounds of non-munitions scrap-metal. Three 81- millimeter mortars containing inert material have been found and detonated in place. EPA expects to find additional mortars on the site.

The site consists of an open field that has historically been used for agricultural purposes,
except for a brief period during or around World War II. At that time, Triumph Industries which manufactured military munitions, used the site for burning and disposing of waste explosives.