In another effort to rid a Tierrasanta neighborhood of decades-old and potentially hazardous explosives, the Navy today will begin a new sweep, officials said Monday.
The so-called interim survey will last through the first week of August and precedes a more comprehensive cleanup scheduled for next spring.
The 2,600-acre Tierrasanta neighborhood is built on part of what was once Camp Elliott, a World War II Marine Corps training base where artillery, tank, mortar and small arms were used.
No Digging This Time
Controversy over the discovery of long-buried bombs and shells in the canyons has dogged the Navy and local authorities, and it reached a high point six years ago when two 8-year-old boys were killed by an anti-tank shell they found.
Navy bomb experts based in Coronado will focus their efforts in El Dorado Canyon, the jogging trail area and the open space north of Villa Dominique, Navy spokesman Craig Huebler said. They will look for unexploded surface shells, but will not dig for them unless a part of a shell or bomb is in plain view, he said.
A more thorough sweep will take place next spring when the Army Corps of Engineers will both remove vegetation and dig to find any unexploded shells, said Jim Madaffer, president of the Tierrasanta Community Council, which has pushed hard for the cleanup.
Madaffer said the residents campaigned for the latest search because, in February, several children about the same age as the two who were killed found an explosive device and played with it.
Although the device did not explode when the children threw it off a cliff in the canyon, the Fire Department later found it to be active, Madaffer said. The residents urged Rep. Bill Lowery (R-San Diego) to request this interim search.
In January, the city put up 81 signs at 64 locations to make residents aware that shells or bombs might be found in the area. But the signs are only a part of an overall education and safety program the community has been encouraging to prevent another tragedy like the one six years ago, Madaffer said.
Concerned About Rains
The residents want "an increase in . . . pressure to see that this situation, where they (children) are going to pick up a bomb and play with it," does not happen again, Madaffer said.
Residents were especially concerned that rains last winter might have caused more shells and bombs to surface in the area, which is a popular place for children to play during summer, he said.