Monday, January 07, 2008

Schools Out!

By Cernig

Here's one that's off my usual track, but I just found fascinatingly scandalous. Schools out for one set of Florida kids - because their school was built on an old bombing range!
This weekend the Army detonated more than 400 pounds of World War II-era bombs and munitions found on the grounds of a Central Florida middle school.

Forty-nine bombs, each about 23 pounds, as well as several rockets, a rocket booster and a cannon had been found buried near Odyssey Middle School since recovery efforts began Dec. 27.

Also found in one underground pit: an entire U.S. Army tank.

Army workers detonated the explosives in pits over the weekend in controlled explosions.

"This shows how urgent this is," said Orlando City Commissioner Phil Diamond. "I don't know if everyone has grasped the magnitude of this."
The Orlando Sentinel has a whole page of detail, including a short vid clip and graphics. It appears the Army Corps of Engineers have known about the possibility of problems for years - perhaps since '48 but certainly since 1994 - and that tons of earth from the site, containing who knows what, were also used as landfill on local roads and housing developments. In 2002, after a tractor exploded a bomb, private engineers categorised the area as of "critical hazard". the School and surrounding district had been built more than a year before after the Corps said there was no risk despite it's own 1994 report that munitions still existed on the site.

Sens. Bill Nelson and Mel Martinez and U.S. Rep. Ric Keller have written to the Corps demanding that they should immediately put up more fences around the property, post more warning signs and start cleaning up all of the neighborhoods in and around the 12,483-acre former Pinecastle Jeep Range.

You have to think the Corps slipped up badly here. Especially since plans for the old range currently include a medical research center, a Veterans Affairs hospital and a medical school.

(Hat Tip - Comments From Left field.)

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