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Practice ordnance found in LA Canyon

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By Tris DeRoma

Public Works employees working in Bayo Canyon got a bit of a surprise in the form of a 105 mm M46 projectile Thursday.

The ordnance was discovered shortly after unloading some mud from a dredging operation taking place at the Los Alamos Canyon reservoir.

The bomb squad from the Los Alamos Police Department was called, and ordnance experts from Kirtland Air Force base also were notified. They came up early this morning to run some tests on the projectile, only to determine it was a concrete-filled practice round left over from the World War II era, or earlier. 

According to LAPD Cpl. Oliver Morris, it was a common size, “so it could have been even earlier,” Morris said. He also said however one of the other officers on the scene, Cpl. Sheldon Simpson, who was in the military in the 90s, was even familiar with the round.

How it arrived in the Los Alamos Canyon reservoir is a bit of a mystery, but Public Works Project Manager and Senior Engineer Daniel Erickson said the experts told him it probably washed in from upriver somewhere.

“It was in very good shape, so they think it probably washed into the reservoir in the recent past,” Erickson said.  “They also think that because the reservoir was dredged down to the bedrock shortly after the Cerro Grande Fire.”

Apparently, even though it didn’t seem like it at the time, no one was in any type of serious danger. Cpl. Morris said diagnostics run on the ordnance at the scene quickly determined that it was inert.

“If it wasn’t, it probably would have been handled differently,” Oliver said. Officials from the Air Force base transported it back to the base Friday to be disposed of.

Erickson said that was the only ordnance found, and dredging operations recommenced Friday without any further incident.

“The explosive ordnance disposal experts and the bomb squad said we handled this in a good manner, that we reported it as soon as we saw it,” Erickson said. “Devices like that are in the low-risk category and we aren’t expecting to find any more, but in the event we do, we will contact project staff and the Los Alamos County Police Dispatch,” Erickson said.