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Five-year Clean-up at Former Army Demonstration Range Likely Will Continue for Years to Come

August 1, 2013 | WMFE - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is continuing to look for old munitions at a middle school in east Orlando, built on the site of a former World War II weapons demonstration range. Munitions and debris were first discovered at the site of the former Pinecastle Jeep Range near Orlando International Airport five years ago.

The Army Corps dug up an athletic track at Odyssey Middle School this summer but found no munitions. The corps is also investigating wetlands and residential areas in Tivoli Gardens and Lee Vista Square.

Frank Araico (ah-RIKE-oh) is managing the cleanup. He says the middle school will get a new athletic track before school resumes, but the Army Corps' oversight of the area will continue for years to come.  

"We can't do a 100 percent guarantee simply because we can't possibly sweep every inch. We can't look under buildings. We can't look under impervious buildings. But anything that's under a building is essentially safe. Ordinance does not spontaneously go off."

During the 1940s the Army conducted training and weapons demonstrations on the more than 12,000-acre Pinecastle Jeep Range. Araiko says he doesn't know why a recommendation not to develop the area was disregarded.

Dozens of munitions and at least 800 pieces of debris have been discovered in the area since the cleanup began in 2007.


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