Vintage munitions stored near school

February 11, 2009 8:34:19 PM PST
Residents on Long Beach Island, New Jersey are asking the question: if vintage munitions were unsafe on the beach where they washed up,why are they now being stored near a childrens playground?The Army Corps of Engineers has changed its mind and says it will relocate a storage site, holding World War I era munitions.

The Corps was out Wedneday digging up World War I munitions which they're storing in an outdoor bunker before being moved off the island.

"It doesn't seem like you should be taking any chance even if it is a one in a million," April Nekrason of Surf City said.

The temporary bunker was built at the Borough's Public Works Yard on 3rd Street next to the county library and within a hundred yards of the Ethel Jacobsen Elementary School.

"I have about 130 students, teachers, and staff and our concern is the kids and everybody who works here," the school's superintendent Bob Garguilo said.

School officials have roped off a field that sits next to where the bunker's located.

The Army Corps showed Action News the inside of the secured bunker. It's a fenced-in wall of sandbags 8 feet high and 40 inches wide surrounding 3 steel safes where the rusty munitions are stored before being carted away to be destroyed. George Follett says people do not need to worry about these old munitions exploding.

"It's not like you can brush against it, it would go off. You really would have to take a hammer to it. This design, this location, this has been looked at by many people, all of them experts in the explosive field," George Follett of the Army Corps of Engineers said.

The Army Corps says it will now make sure that munitions disposal experts from the military come to Surf City every day to remove the discarded munitions.

But some residents still aren't comfortable.

"It's good to say they're safe. If it was safe why are they digging them up in the first place?" Mario Bordoni said.

In response to public concern, the Corp has decided to close the bunker and hold the munitions for pickup at the beach instead.

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