Unexploded ordnance rendered safe

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Live bomblet found in empty home on East Jemez Road

By Carol A. Clark

The Los Alamos County Bomb Team rendered safe a military ordnance discovered yesterday morning at Royal Crest in an empty mobile home on East Jemez Road.

Bomb expert Sgt. Fred Rascon described the situation during an interview Wednesday afternoon.

“The home had a lot of items in it left from the owner who had passed away several months ago. A friend of his was clearing out some of the items in a portion of the trailer when he noticed the ordnance sitting up on a shelf and called police dispatch,” Rascon said. “The shelf was near stairs and it was too difficult for the robot to get in there so Lt. Scott Mills suited up and went in with a hand-held X-ray device.”

Rascon described the ordnance as a “live bomblet” typically dropped from airplanes. It had a one-inch drop weight, meaning it is capable of exploding when dropped just one-inch from the ground, he said.

The neighborhood was sectioned off from about 9 a.m.-1 p.m. until the bomblet was no longer a threat to the public, Rascon said.

In addition to Rascon and Mills, the Los Alamos County Bomb Team includes explosives experts Sgt. Preston Ballew and Cpl. Ben Henrichs, all members of the Los Alamos Police Department.

A cluster of bomblets are smaller submunitions ejected from a cluster munition air-dropped or ground-launched, according to Web site information.  The most common types are designed to kill enemy personnel and destroy vehicles.

Other submunition-based weapons designed to destroy runways, electric power transmission lines, disperse chemical or biological weapons, or to scatter land mines have also been produced.

Some submunition-based weapons can disperse non-munitions such as leaflets.

Because cluster bombs release many small bomblets over a wide area they pose risks to civilians both during attacks and afterwards. During attacks, the weapons are prone to indiscriminate effects, especially in populated areas.

Unexploded bomblets can kill or maim civilians long after a conflict has ended and are costly to locate and remove.

In this case, while it’s not yet known the origin, it is fortunate the bomblet was discovered by an individual who knew to back away and call in the experts.