Both U.S. senators and a congressman from Florida have asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to expand its search of a former World War II bombing range after several explosives were discovered at and near the site in recent months.
Sens. Bill Nelson and Mel Martinez and Rep. Ric Keller sent a letter to the Army last week asking it to expand a current search of the old Pinecastle Jeep Range southeast of Orlando after a 23-pound bomb was found in a neighborhood the Corps had declared free of bombs.
The lawmakers also asked if dirt from the range that may have contained explosives had been used as fill for highway embankments and neighborhoods.
The Army Corps of Engineers is only looking at a 50-acre section near a school. The range covered 12,483 acres when it was used to train bombardiers during the war.
The lawmakers asked for a larger search including nearby communities, as other bombs, rockets, fuses and a grenade also have been found in the area over the past five months.
“That has us concerned for the public safety, and we want to make sure that this situation is taken care of as quickly as possible,” said Ken Lundberg, a spokesman for Martinez.
Land for the school and nearby neighborhoods was graded and filled but there have been conflicting accounts of whether any of the fill dirt had been obtained from the former bombing range.
A private munitions company working for Lennar Corp. found the latest bomb under about two feet of dirt in the backyard of a home under construction.
Corps officials have said they plan to dig up the school grounds during the Thanksgiving break. A spokeswoman had no immediate comment on the lawmakers’ letter.
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