The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is proposing remediation for 10 new sites at the former Camp Wheeler. The sites were identified after a five-year study of the land.
Located on the border of Bibb and Twiggs counties, the site was used for army training in World War I and II. Even today, small arms, mortars, artillery rockets, grenade ranges and rockets -- some active and inactive -- remain buried underground.
The corps is responsible for cleaning up former defense sites, and it contracted with Sterling Global Operations Inc. to study the land. After combing over a 245-mile area with Schonstedt metal detectors, a total of 6,303 anomalies, or metal items that could possibly be artillery, were found.
"We ranked (the 10 sites) in order of risk," said Julie Anne Hiscox, formerly used defense sites senior project manager for the corps' Savannah District. "We will go back to the areas that are the most risky first and clean them up."
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Should the proposed plan be approved, the 10 areas will be excavated by one to three feet of ground, depending on the type of munition found, Hiscox said. "How soon we get them done depends on funding and all of that," she added.
A few residents trickled into a public meeting held at the Macon Marriott City Center on Wednesday night. A 30-day public comment period on the proposed plans ends Dec. 14, said Terry Small, project manager for Sterling Global Operations Inc.
For the most part, most of the artillery buried is not actively explosive, Small said.
Even with clearing the 10 areas, "there's always the slightest chance you can find something. It's impossible to (remove) ... millions of rounds fired. You're just not going to get everything. You just kind of get down to a risk level you think is acceptable."
Small said if the proposed plans are put into motion, it would likely be two to four years before the work would start.
"It's not a next spring type operation," he said.
To contact writer Laura Corley, call 744-4334 or follow her on Twitter @Lauraecor.