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National Guard to inspect old rifle ranges for hazards

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New York Army National Guard photo
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By Mark Scott

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wbfo/local-wbfo-954774.mp3

Albany, NY – The National Guard Bureau will be inspecting 23 old National Guard training sites in New York this summer to find out if there is any environmental contamination. As WBFO's Mark Scott reports, three of the sites are in Western New York.

Inspectors will visit three old National Guard rifle ranges near Olean and Jamestown and in Weathersfield in Wyoming County. These old training sites will be examined for potential hazards. Few, if any, records exist. Master Sergeant Corrine Lombardo says they're seeking the public's help.

"We're preparing an historical record at this point," Lombardo said. "We're looking for documentation -- any news articles or old photos -- to help us identify the boundaries for these old ranges."

The Olean Small Arms Range on private farmland south of the Allegheny River was used from 1904 to 1955. The Jamestown Small Arms Range in Frewsberg was first used back in 1879 and is located on swampy land south of Route 62. The Camp O'Ryan range operated much later -- from 1949 to 1974 -- on forested private property in Weathersfield. So, what might be there?

"Spent cartridges, possibly some old bullets," Lombardo said. "But until they can get out there and do a site survery, it's hard to say what they'll find, if anything."

Lombardo says the inspectors will use metal detectors and take soil samples.

"If, in fact, something is found, then the National Guard Bureau and Defense Department will put together a plan for any clean-up or remedial action that's required," she said.

The US Defense Department is mandating the inspections worldwide to make sure these old non-operational defense sites are not posing an environmental and safety risk.