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Mortar Rounds Found on Mass. Base

September 24, 2000

SANDWICH, Mass. (AP) _ Contractors digging a well at a polluted military base on Cape Cod unearthed more than 225 mortar shells and rounds less than half a mile from an elementary school.

``None of them are fused, so there is no potential for any of them to blow,″ said Jason Alves, of the Massachusetts Military Reservation’s Impact Area Groundwater Study Office, which is directing the well’s installation. ``They were likely used for some kind of training, but we just don’t know what kind.″

Mindy Lubber, regional chief of the Environmental Protection Agency, said it was unacceptable for so many shells to be discover by accident so close to residential communities.

Workers on Friday dug up 200 60 mm and eight 81 mm mortar shells, and found 20 60 mm mortar rounds. Three weeks ago, they uncovered a large Vietnam-era bomb, and Alves said there could be hundreds more mortars in the area.

The munitions will be destroyed in a controlled environment, he said.

``This type of disposal was at best irresponsible from a public safety and public health perspective,″ Lubber said.

The most recent discovery is the largest cache of undetonated explosives found at the 20,000-acre base, declared one of Massachusetts’ worst hazardous waste sites.

``This is significant; we didn’t expect to find this,″ said Colonel Richard Freeman who is in charge of the military’s joint program office for the cleanup. ``Unfortunately, it’s more of the same. It’s something that shouldn’t have been done.″

The base has been used as a firing range since 1911.

___

On the Net:

Mass. Military Reservation: http://www.tiac.net/users/mmreis/

EPA: http://www.epa.gov/

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