Over 2K WWII-era UXOs blown up


The U.S Department of Defense, through its contracting company, HydroGeoLogic, Inc., collected over 2,000 unexploded ordnances, or UXOs, around the HOPE Recovery Center in the last four months, culminating in a huge, one-time disposal blast yesterday in Marpi.

According to Lt. Col. Eric Marshall, commander of the Honolulu District Corps of Engineers, the amount of UXOs found at the HOPE Recovery Center was a significant find for the size of the real estate.

“Within four months, we have found over 2,000 pieces of what we call MEC, or Munitions or Explosives of Concern. Not all that is necessarily explosive, but it’s something that could be unsafe for the public. That is a significant find across 14 acres of land,” he said.

Yesterday, HydroGeoLogic, in collaboration with the DoD, detonated the over 2,000 UXOs at the Marpi Blow Pit, a site in Marpi where many of the UXOs found in the CNMI are disposed of.

Some of the ordnances recovered at the HOPE Center were three-inch projectiles, 75mm projectiles, 90mm projectiles, 105mm projectiles, 155mm projectiles, 60mm mortars, 81mm mortars, and hundreds of hand grenades.

Marshall said the detonation was monumental because the site that was cleared of these ordnances used to be a defense site for the U.S. Army during World War II.

“Today we are we are detonating the final blast of UXOs that were found at the HOPE Clinic. The HOPE Clinic is an important site. The site, for us, is a Formerly Used Defense Site, which makes it a special piece of real estate for the Department of Defense. During the time that we used it, there were leftover unexploded ordnance. And we have gone through a four-month process of remediating that terrain as quick[ly] as we possibly could,” he said.

In addition to the UXOs, HydroGeoLogic also uncovered over 76,000 pounds of metal that could be explosive or part of an explosive device that could contaminate the environment.

“It’s not just explosives. It’s also metal in the ground that’s a contaminant. …We found over 76,000 pounds of metal within those 14 acres that have now been recovered and moved to recycle. So it’s overall just a really good thing for the environment,” he said.

Marshall said this is only the beginning of the DoD’s mission to remove leftover UXOs from the CNMI environment that could pose a threat to the public.

“This is just the beginning. This mission is what we call a ‘Time Critical Removal Action,’ which is something we had to prioritize because there was really a concerning risk to the public. But we know that there’s other land that needs to be remediated and this is just the start. Additionally, as part of the services we provide, we are going to continue to monitor to make sure that we’ve recovered everything, and to educate the public on explosives safety,” he said.

Kimberly Bautista Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Bautista Esmores has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.
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