The bombs in the bay could explode!
An expert says that 50-year-old bombs found 20 feet below the bay off the coast of Gravesend could blow up if struck during dredging.
“The ammo could be dangerous, but it’s not something to panic about,” said Ken Hayes, president of Aqua Survey, the company that located more than 1,500 live anti-aircraft shells underwater last week. “It can be managed with the proper technology.”
According to Hayes, the bombs, believed to have fallen off a military barge that overturned during a storm in 1954, could detonate if they are struck during dredging of the area, which the city needs to do in order to build a garbage removal station nearby.
“The world is littered with ammunition, and that’s something many dredging operations have to take into consideration,” said Hayes. “There are ways to remove the bombs safely, or even work around them.”
One bomb being struck and exploding could set off others near it, releasing cancer-causing toxins into the waters, according to explosives expert and veteran Naval officer Tom Rancich. But the damage to the borough would be minimal, as the water provides a sufficient buffer between the bombs and the shores, Rancich added.
“Parts of Brooklyn would not be destroyed,” Rancich said. “The worst physical damage would be some houses near the water getting their windows broken.”
But the fact that human error could cause an explosion makes the dredging far too risky, says a lawmaker who’s against the garbage plan.
“We need a full environmental assessment of the area because there could have been other accidents that deposited ammunition,” said Assemblyman William Colton (D–Bensonhurst). “It would be totally irresponsible to dredge, even if the discovered shells are retrieved.”
The state Department of Environmental Conservation is yet to decide whether to allow the city to dredge the bay, but said it will consider the unexploded ammunition in its ruling. Spokesman Thomas Manzone did not indicate when the state would make its decision. The city said it would take the necessary precautions, according to spokesman Keith Mellis. Even Mayor Bloomberg said that the ammunition wouldn’t put the brakes on the dredging, according to a Oct. 26 report by The New York Post.
The Coast Guard is determining the best way to retrieve the ammo, according to an Oct. 29 Associated Press report. The Army Corps of Engineers may also get involved in a clean-up, according spokesman Chris Gardner.