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Hundreds exposed to unexploded ordnance in Tangipahoa Parish

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Posted: Nov 18, 2009 10:20 PM by Chris Nakamoto
Updated: Nov 19, 2009 3:11 PM
Source: WBRZ

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Topics: Tangipahoa Parish, United States Army Corps of Engineers, Hammond Gunnery, Bombing Range, un-exploded bomb, Hammond, War Department, World War II, P51 Mustangs, Loranger

The United States Army Corps of Engineers recently told residents who live on the Hammond Gunnery and Bombing Range, they could be at risk of coming in contact with an un-exploded bomb.

The 15,000 acre tract of land sits just east of the City of Hammond. The War Department leased the site in 1942 after the land was condemned. The bomb range was used to train fighter pilots in ground attack bombing during World War II. Toward the end of the war, P51 Mustangs trained at the range using air to ground rockets.

Steve and Brenda Ory own 25 acres of land in Loranger. Their home is located in the 15,000 acre area.

"We found a lot of ammunition here," Steven Ory said.

He's concerned because the Corps didn't tell residents about the potential risk until two weeks ago.

Site survey reports show, "Physical evidence found at the range consists of old bomb craters and pieces of shrapnel. The existence of bomb craters relates to a high probability of buried unexploded ordnance in the area."

The Ory's remain concerned about the risk from the bombing range, and from two dirt pits that continue digging on the potentially explosive ground.

Jim Sanchez owns one of the dirt pits. He told News 2, the digging is almost finished.

"If I had known about it before, I might have been concerned about it, but at this point it's too late," Sanchez said.

He acknowledged that the dirt from that pit (which is located on the bombing range) was transported to sites across the area.

Tangipahoa Parish Leaders are aware of the problems associated with the bombing range.

Carson Davis is a developer who recently spent 10 million dollars developing a subdivision in the parish. He cleared it and installed drainage, but can't get a single permit to build a home inside the subdivision due to the bombing range issue.

He is now suing the federal government. He believes someone should have notified landowners about the risks associated with building on the property.

The Army Corps of Engineers won't say who's responsibility it was to notify landowners. The Corps is hiring an outside organization to investigate the ownership issues. It should be finished in two years.

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