Old munitions found during remedial investigation project

By Kathy Eastwood, West Point Public AffairsAugust 3, 2011

New project, old discovery
Pictured are the grenades found in areas of West Point, including one found behind the West Point Middle School July 27. Weston Solutions is searching for unexploded munitions and the grenade found, although a possible WWII munition, still had gun po... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

WEST POINT, N.Y. (Aug. 3, 2011) -- West Point has a rich history dating back to the Revolutionary War, and proof of this history is often found during construction with the excavation of historical artifacts and sometimes, unexploded ordnance.

This was the case July 28 when Weston Solutions, part of a remedial investigation project that began in March to determine if any hazards related to munitions exist on 10 sites around West Point, found a World War II-era grenade that still had gunpowder inside. The munitions were found behind the West Point Middle School along with a Civil War-era cannonball and a Revolutionary War-era belt buckle.

“We found a grenade and about 2,000 (pieces of) munitions debris in the area,” Jeff Sanborn, Directorate of Public Works, Environmental Management Division director, said. “We evacuated many of the residents on Barry Road just as a precaution. The grenade was taken away to a safe area and exploded.”

The U.S. Army Garrison"West Point and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District began a remedial investigation of the sites encompassing 510 acres around West Point under the Army’s Military Munitions Response Program in March. The sites were predominantly associated with military training in artillery used by cadets from the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s.

Ridding the area of unexploded ordnance and munitions debris is an important safety concern. After the 1999 fires on Storm King Mountain, unexploded ordnance left over from 19th century training were found and caused the mountain to close for hiking until October 2002. During the building of the West Point motor pool on Route 293, an unexploded ordnance was found during the site excavation.

After completion of the remedial study, which is in its second phase, a report will summarize what was done and the results of the study. The report will be available to the West Point community at the USMA library, West Point community library, Highland Falls library and Alice Curtis Desmond and Hamilton Fish Library.