RAVENNA Officials plan controlled burn of factories, bunkers at arsenal

Cleanup is expected to go on until 2017.
RAVENNA -- A contractor is expected to torch two factory complexes and explosives storage bunkers at the Ravenna Amy Ammunition Plant sometime next week, depending on the weather.
The fires will be used to destroy two of the 10 remaining munitions assembly lines that once operated on the more than 21,000-acre military reservation.
Two other assembly lines were demolished in 2001.
Although the factories being burned are massive -- one sprawls over 45 acres -- flames are not expected to be visible from outside the base because of the hilly landscape, officials said.
The controlled burn planned for next week is part of a $39.7 million effort to clean up the arsenal, which is expected to go on until 2017.
Various types of shells, grenades and other explosives were produced at the arsenal from World War II through the early 1990s.
Now, all but about 1,500 acres are licensed to the Ohio National Guard.
Used for training
The land is used by various branches of the armed forces for infantry, tank, helicopter and other training, said Lt. Col. Tom Tadsen, area supervisor for the Ohio National Guard.
Local fire departments will be asked to remain on guard for 24 hours after the controlled burn in case anything goes wrong, he said.
By burning the building before mechanical demolition, officials hope to destroy any lingering explosive material that might have seeped into floors or behind walls.
Materials that had been stored in the three bunkers were so volatile they had to be kept underwater in lead-lined pools, Tadsen said.
Before the burn could take place, workers had to dig up the bunkers and punch holes in their roofs for ventilation, he said.
The 2003 bill for cleanup at the facility is expected to top $4 million.

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