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Missile base on hold

Camp Ravenna still on short list, decision could come this year

By MATTHEW MERCHANT Staff Writer Published: May 18, 2017 4:00 AM
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Plans for a missile defense base at Camp Ravenna Joint Military Training Center are on hold, according to the Ohio Army National Guard.

"Everything is on hold pending the Trump administration's review," said Col. Ed Meade, the head officer at the base. "It's on hold. But with all of the Korean stuff going on, you would think there'd be a lot of interest in that. I'm not saying it's a dead project, but it's on hold until the new administration can get a handle on it. We are definitely still on the short list."

He said a decision could come near the end of the year. Camp Ravenna is vying against two other sites for the estimated $3.6 billion project. Fort Custer Training Center in Michigan and Fort Drum in New York are also being considered, though Ravenna offers less of an environmental impact than the others.

Meade spoke to members of the Ravenna Army Ammunition Plant Restoration Advisory Board on Wednesday during a regular meeting and site tour at the camp.

The camp has recently added several firing ranges, including a $3 million rapid-fire rifle range which Meade expects will draw troops from Pennsylvania and other surrounding states for training. Most of the work has been completed using troops stationed at the camp to cut costs.

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As the sun began to set over the miles of dense trees, blossoming fields and vacant munitions factories, advisory board members toured several sites within the base that are being restored to original conditions.

At the Open Demolition Area #2, teams from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers surveyed the site a few years ago and found 2,500 pounds of munitions debris and explosive materials. An additional 1,300 pounds of items were discovered in surrounding area during the replacement of a culvert.

Now, those items are being disposed of by a team of experts from the Army Corps' Baltimore branch. Using a mound of sand to control the blast, explosives expert John Day and his team properly and safely destroy the items.

In November, the board learned of a major culvert project at the site that would incorporate a never-before-used three-sided design that could handle the weight of a military tank while allowing the natural stream to do something unexpected.

"It helps to restore the stream and it started flowing naturally," said National Guard environmentalist Katie Tait. "After the storm events, the (stone) we put in started to settle. It's a nice way to restore a stream."

At the Atlas Scrap Yard, a lush green field now stands where before a 15-foot high pile of railroad ties and concrete scraps stood. More than 2,800 tons of material was hauled away for recycling or disposal beginning in January.

At both sites and along the roads in between, yellow posts designated groundwater monitoring wells, 15 of which were dug last year. Across the nearly 22,000-acre facility, roughly 300 wells are designed to trace how water moves in underground aquifers.

Because of the explosive materials and chemicals used at the former plants, the Ohio EPA and National Guard monitor for any chance those chemicals could flow outside the base.


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