Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Aquino leads WWII bombs disposal exercise in Tarlac

Manila Bulletin, Saturday, March 5, 2011

President Benigno S. Aquino III led Saturday the culmination of the joint explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) exercise for World War II ordnances in Crow Valley in Capas, Tarlac.

President Aquino detonated the last two pallets of 287-pound Mk 6 depth charges and two pallets of 190-pound Mk 9 depth charges using radio firing device. He led the last phase of the exercise triggering the explosion of 2,000- pound explosive composed of antisubmarine explosives. Also present during the exercise was United States Ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas.

Saturday’s event was part of an agreement between the Philippines and the U.S. government after President Aquino met U.S. President Barack Obama last year. The President asked the U.S. leader to assist the Philippines in getting rid of the bombs that puts civilian population at risk.

The ordnance disposal exercise was spearheaded by the Philippines Naval Special Operations Group (NAVSOG) in collaboration with the U.S. military.

Representatives from other services of the Philippine armed forces also joined the Navy in disposing the bombs.

The President commended the Armed Forces and all the personnel involved in the activity for safely disposing of the ordnances, completing the job way ahead of schedule.

The target date for completion was March 26, but they managed to complete it on March 5.

The exercise is the last phase of the ordnance disposal that started February 9 in Crow Valley in Tarlac where more than 4,000 pieces of World War II ordnances were detonated.

President Aquino said the safe disposal of the World War II leftover was very important to ensure public safety. The vintage ordnances were originally stored in Caballo Island in Cavite and experts said a detonation could trigger a domino-effect type of explosion that could be very destructive within 32-kilometer radius.

“There was a danger that an unattended explosion could detonate roughly about 400,000 pounds of explosives. I was told that the blast area for that would be something like 30 square kilometers that would affect portions of Cavite, Bataan and even the NCR [National Capital Region]. Hence, the need to adequately dispose of the same materials,” the President said.

The ordnance disposal had three phases: stabilization and rendering of the ordnances, segregation and pallet placements at Caballo Island from January 20 to February 4, 2011.

Under the second phase, the U.S. government hired a commercial landing craft tank to transport the bombs from Caballo Island to Crow Valley. The third phase was the safe detonation of the bombs.

The Philippines still suffers from environmental damage from World War II and the post-war U.S. military presence in the country aside from the unexploded munitions as a result of conflict in Mindanao and the communist insurgency.

Until now there are occasional reports on discoveries of these bombs and deaths appear to occur from time to time from such incidents.

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