SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - An 81 mm mortar round was excavated in the wooded area behind the Arthur MacArthur U.S. Army Reserve Center in Springfield, Mass., Dec. 14, 2012.
The discovery was made during the second phase of a remedial investigation that was suspended in October 2011 when another 81 mm mortar round was discovered in the same area.
The two-phased remedial investigation began in September 2010, starting with a geophysical survey of the site using magnetometers that detect anomalies up to several feet underground. These anomalies were then analyzed, and potential areas of buried debris were identified.
“We picked six pits from the geophysical survey to investigate,” explained Laura Dell'Olio, a government contractor with Innovar Environmental Inc. employed as the installation restoration program coordinator for the Army Reserve’s 99th Regional Support Command. “They were chosen because they showed a lot of metallic anomalies.”
The second phase of the remedial investigation consisted of excavation of several of these test pits in October 2011, during which one of the pits yielded an 81 mm mortar round.
The second phase of the investigation was put on hold until a revised plan encompassing the remaining pit excavations and additional safety measures could be planned and funded. This new plan was approved and the second phase of the investigation was completed this past month.
“In the second field effort that just occurred, we investigated the last two pits,” said Dell’Olio, who explained that the investigation results have been submitted to the Department of Defense and Army Corps of Engineers to determine if any additional investigations are needed.
“They will make the determination if we have fully investigated, and they will also approve our future land-use controls for the property,” she added.
The MacArthur ARC property has been slated for disposal by the Army Reserve per the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure commission. The planned reuse of the building is by the town of Springfield as administrative space for its police department, but this transfer cannot happen until the potential risks to the future landowners is mitigated through the Army’s investigation process.
The safety methods employed during the remedial investigation were approved by the Department of Defense’s Ammunition and Explosive Safety Board. Extra safety measures were taken during the investigation due to the site’s close proximity to civilian homes and included the use of a Miniature Open-Front Barricade, a three-foot-high, reinforced-aluminum canopy that can absorb the blast and shrapnel from a small explosion, thus protecting the homeowners and their property should detonation have occurred.
The 99th RSC will continue to work with local and state agencies to ensure public safety remains a top priority.
The public is encouraged to contact Mr. Shawn Morris at email@example.com with any questions or comments and to visit the City of Springfield Central Library, 220 State Street, Springfield, MA, 01103, (413) 263-6828 for access to the administrative file.