Clark Co. cleaning up nearly 100 years of unexploded artillery t - KPTV - FOX 12

Clark Co. cleaning up nearly 100 years of unexploded artillery to make way for new park

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Camp Bonneville, the nearly 4,000 acre property slated to be a huge new park in Clark County, is still years from being clean enough to be used as such.

The former rifle and artillery range, used by the U.S. Army for nearly a century is littered with shell casings, shrapnel, and munitions, including some unexploded ordinance.

"We just expect to find stuff pretty much everywhere we look," said Jerry Barnett, Clark County's Project Manager for the cleanup efforts.

Recently, the Army kicked in an additional $1.8 million in funding for Phase II of the cleanup, which involves clearing debris and munitions from rifle and small artillery ranges on the site's valley floor.

Barnett said that phase of the project is roughly 50 percent complete.

Phase III, which is yet to begin, involves removing ordinance from the site's artillery impact area, where troops launched shells as large as six inches in diameter at old cars and appliances.

"If we find something that cannot be moved, what we'll do is we'll cover it with sandbags and put explosives on top of it, and we'll blow it in place," said Greg Johnson, the county's munitions expert supervising the cleanup.

Johnson said crews found one unexploded mortar on an initial entry into the area, while trying to clear a 20-foot buffer around the road.

"We had to blow that up in place. It took about roughly 300 sandbags to cover it," said Johnson.

Clark County assumed ownership of the former Camp Bonneville site in 2006, after the Army made a commitment to fund the cleanup.

Initial work on the cleanup, though, revealed much more contamination on the site than the county was led to believe.

"It mushroomed past what the Army believed was here," said Barnett.

The initial contractor hired to clean the site left the job unfinished, after reaching a settlement with the Army.

In 2011, Clark County took over management of the cleanup, hiring a new contractor, Weston Solutions.

So far, the cleanup has cost more than $20 million.

Barnett said it would likely be 2-3 years before the site is considered clean and ready to use.

Parts of the property, including the heavy ordinance target, will be fenced off permanently.

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