POLK COUNTY — While notifying residents of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ plans inspect the former Camp Adair area for leftover ordnance, the agency discovered live munitions sooner than expected.
Project Manager Ember Corver said the USACE was on-site the week of Sept. 13 to complete a technical planning meeting in preparation of work plans for the field investigation and to follow up on rights of entry. They had planned to return in late winter to early spring to perform advanced radar scans of properties in three targeted areas.
While their field agent was making contacts, he located four shell munitions at two different locations — one at 8695 Zumwalt Road and the other at 11435 Elkins Road. Corver said the four shells were M1 105mm High Explosive (HE) Projectiles with the M55 Mechanical Time Fuze.
“The items were identified by qualified USACE Military Munitions Design Center (MMDC) personnel as being armed and fully intact,” Corver said.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office called in Salem PD bomb squad. According to the PCSO report, it was decided to leave them as they had been in the same spot since the mid 1980s.
An Explosives Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit returned the next day to recover the items. The EOD team then transported the items Sept. 15 to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, just south of Tacoma, Washington, for disposal.
Camp Adair is a Formerly Used Defense Site (FUDS) property that is no longer under Department of Defense control. Camp Adair, comprises about 56,800 acres, is approximately 9 miles north of Corvallis in Polk, Benton and Linn counties. The camp was used primarily for infantry training from 1942 to 1945, including use of small arms, explosives, mortars, artillery, antiaircraft and antitank guns. From 1944 to 1946, Camp Adair was used for bombing and gunnery practice for Navy and Marine Corps pilots. Camp Adair was then declared surplus and assigned for disposition in April 1946.
Corver said the as part of the USACE’s Military Munitions Response Program, they are targeting three project areas within the old Camp Adair location to clear suspected munitions left behind.
Project 8: Live Grenade Court. The land is currently being used for general farming and by a Christmas tree farm. From 1942 to 1945, the area was used by the Army for three non-contiguous grenade courts within its 75 acres.
Project 9: Explosive Munitions Range: The 15,455 acres consists of 19 individual ranges including artillery, field combat ranges and two aerial bombing targets that was used by the Army, Navy and Marine Corps from 1942-45. Most land is being used for agricultural purposes, including farming, ranching and Christmas tree farms, in addition to civilian residences.
Project 12: Field Combat Ranges: Three combat ranges were actively used within these 1,324 acres from 1942-45 for live fire exercises. Currently, the land is being used for agricultural crop growing operations, Christmas tree farms and some residences.
Corver said of the nearly 16,000 acres comprising Projects 8, 9, and 12, landowners have granted USACE access to approximately half of the acres with their signed ROEs.
“USACE continues to pursue additional ROEs to accurately characterize the landscape,” Corver said. “Discovering these munitions demonstrates the importance of our efforts to gain additional ROEs and continue with our remedial investigation of the project area.”
She added the that military munitions may still pose an explosive hazard. She said to protect yourself, your family, your friends and your community, it is important to follow the “3Rs” of explosives safety should you know or suspect you have come across a military munition:
Recognize — when you may have come across a munition, and that munitions are dangerous.
Retreat — do not approach, touch, move, or disturb a suspect munition, but carefully leave the area.
Report — immediately what you saw and where you saw it to local law enforcement — call 911.
For more information on the former Camp Adair, go to www.nwk.usace.army.mil/Missions/Environmental/Environmental-Projects/Camp-Adair.