WWII BOMBS FOUND AT ROTA AIRPORT SITE

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Three bombs totaled 1,200 pounds

By Haidee V. Eugenio

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, August 22, 2009) – Three pieces of unexploded World War II ordnance with combined "net explosive weight" of 1,250 lbs were found in a construction site at the Rota airport yesterday, CNMI Explosives Response Team and private contractor AMPRO Inc. told Saipan Tribune.

XRT commander Capt. Pete Leon Guerrero and AMPRO operations manager J.D. Robinson, in separate interviews, said the discovery is "one of the biggest hauls" of war ordnance in the CNMI.

Robinson said they initially found two pieces of ordnance, each having 500 lbs in net explosive weight.

Later, another piece of 250 lbs in net explosive weight was also found, for a total of 1,200 lbs.

To stress their point, the last four detonations in Marpi each involved a little over 1,000 lbs of unexploded war ordnance consisting of 200 to 300 pieces of mortar rounds, projectiles and grenades, among other things.

"But what we found today total 1,200 lbs in net explosive weight and involve only three pieces of ordnance. This is a major find," Robinson added.

AMPRO, which stands for "All-hazard Management Professionals," is a private service support company providing specialized consulting services in support of hazardous material, disaster preparedness, and safety related projects.

Given the magnitude of the find, Guerrero said the ordnance would need to be detonated immediately. Unlike Saipan where there's a safe storage facility where live ordnance can be kept while waiting for detonation, Rota does not have one.

"We will have an emergency detonation and we're working with the U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Detachment Marianas to do this," Guerrero said.

The Navy's EOD team detonates all of the ordnance found on Saipan, Tinian and Rota, with the help of XRT, Ampro and other government agencies.

On Aug. 7, another 1,000 lbs of war ordnance were detonated. It was the fourth major detonation conducted this year, each involving almost equal weight of explosives.

Most of them were found at a Marpi area being cleared by AMPRO under contract with the Department of Public Lands. DPL received $750,000 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to clean up the site of environmental hazards.

The Northern Marianas, particularly Saipan and Tinian, were major battlefields between American and Japanese during World War II.

To this day, unexploded ordnance continues to be found on these two islands, along with other Pacific islands, including American Samoa, Hawaii, Palau and Pohnpei

Saipan Tribune http://www.saipantribune.com

 

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