Work is progressing and contractors are still searching for possible unexploded ordnance (UXO) and other munitions at the Formerly Used Defense Site (FUDS) at Camp Butner, a World War II training installation located near Butner, NC.
Ray Livermore, a member of the Wilmington District’s Camp Butner FUDS Project Delivery Team, said contractors are currently working on Area 4 Range, Complex 1 and 2. The range complex includes 5 ranges used for artillery training. The clean up effort involves conducting a survey and excavation of potential unexploded ordnance items in a two-acre area around houses. This work will be done for 225 houses in the range complex. “We began in March of 2008 and we’ve found eight unexploded ordnance items that include 155mm shells, rifle grenades, and 2.36 inch bazooka rounds,” he said.
Livermore said urban sprawl is uncovering much of the former Camp Butner’s training areas that used to be isolated areas or farmland. Land is less expensive in Butner than in areas like Raleigh and Durham making the small town and surrounding area attractive for people looking to buy more affordable homes and real estate.
“Subdivisions are going in where there was forest or agricultural land and we haven’t cleared the areas yet,” he said. “Some areas were cleared after WWII and yearly in the 1960s in specific areas. However, that doesn’t mean that when they said they cleared the areas that it was done completely. We want it done methodically, carefully using the best available technology.”
One key point for this long-term project, Livermore said, is assuring the public that safety is first and foremost.
“The contractors working on this job have performed many similar projects in other locations,” he said. “A lot of these folks are former military ordnance specialists. There’s enough confidence in them to use their military experience combined with good techniques for handling this sensitive issue.”
Livermore said proactive community involvement with such groups as the Town of Butner, Granville County and Durham law enforcement agencies and local emergency response services has helped keep residents in Butner and those who live within the former Camp Butner informed about the project.
“We are getting a lot of information out to the public. One of our target groups is children. In 2004, we produced a safety video that helped explain to them what Camp Butner was during World War Two. If kids ever find ordnance or any other type of munitions they know to call police or get an adult.”
According to Livermore, it could take up to 10 years to complete the Camp Butner FUDS project. There are hundreds of acres to cover with limited funding.
“We have 170 houses that we’ve got to clear. That’s excluding a few sub-areas that were identified based on specific range information like an old anti-tank range that are close to completion. We’ll clear 45 houses this year.”
The Defense Environmental Restoration Program (DERP) funds cleanup of sites like Camp Butner under the FUDS program. The US Army Corps of Engineers acts as the Defense Department’s agent to do the work, and the Wilmington District is the organization assigned to be project manager for the Camp Butner FUDS project.