U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completes work at Odyssey Middle School

Published Aug. 26, 2013

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has completed its remedial action at Odyssey Middle School in Orlando, Fla. The school is located on the Pinecastle Jeep Range Formerly Used Defense Site, where the military conducted live-fire training and demonstrations during World War II. The school property has been a focal point throughout USACE’s cleanup of the site, which began in 2007 with the discovery of unexploded ordnance on the undeveloped property adjacent to the school.
    “Typically, USACE conducts a series of thorough investigations prior to implementing a cleanup; however, should an imminent risk be identified during an investigation, we take immediate action to address and remove that risk,” explained Frank Araico, project manager. “That is exactly what occurred in this case – when unexploded ordnance was found in the proximity of the school, we took immediate action to address the risk, while simultaneously continuing to work through the sequential phases of the process required by law.” 
    USACE’s recently completed work completes the phased process outlined in the approved Decision Document for Demonstration Range North, which includes Odyssey Middle School and the Tivoli Gardens and Lee Vista Square communities.  In late June, USACE removed the school’s athletic track and investigated the ground beneath and near it for munitions and related materials.  Although no munitions were found under the athletic track, USACE recovered 80 munitions of various types and sizes, including signal flares, 20-mm and 37-mm anti-aircraft artillery rounds, rifle grenades and incendiary and fragmentation bombs from three burial pits near the athletic track. The recovered munitions were located more than four feet beneath the ground’s surface. Given their depth, these munitions did not pose a risk to students, school staff or the public.
    USACE is continuing its cleanup of properties in Tivoli Gardens and Lee Vista Square, and the wetlands area between the school and Tivoli Gardens. Although USACE has removed some munitions from the wetlands area, it has not found any within the residential areas. USACE will conduct demolition of recovered munitions, if needed, on Saturday mornings to avoid conducting them during school hours. USACE conducts these operations, which destroys recovered munitions by detonation, within a safety perimeter using engineering controls to ensure public safety and limit the resulting noise and debris. Removal actions pose no danger to people in the area. 
    The Decision Documents for two other areas of Pinecastle Jeep Range, Demonstration Range East and Remaining Areas, indicated no further active cleanup is necessary. The Decision Document for the fourth and final area, Demonstration Range South, which includes the undeveloped property known as Mockingbird, is pending review.
    Once remedial actions are completed on Demonstration Range North, USACE will periodically monitor the area and distribute educational material to help ensure public safety is maintained. 
    Munitions are dangerous and are not always easily recognizable. If you encounter or suspect you have encountered munitions, follow the 3Rs of explosives safety: Recognize that what you have encountered may be munitions, and that munitions are dangerous; Retreat – carefully leave the area without touching, moving or disturbing the object, noting its general location; and immediately Report what you saw and where you saw it to local law enforcement by dialing 9-1-1.
    For further information, please e-mail FUDS.Florida@usace.army.mil or call 866.279.4880. To review documents about the Pinecastle Jeep Range Formerly Used Defense Site, please visit the Orlando Public Library Southeast Branch, 5575 S. Semoran Boulevard, Orlando, Fla.
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Nancy J. Sticht

Release no. 13-062