AURORA, Colo. - Mitigation experts searching for World War II era munitions near Aurora Reservoir discovered a kit that was originally used to help train soldiers in how to detect poison gas.
The K-941 gas kit was originally issued with small samples of gas. Mitigation experts said initially, they didn’t know if there were still vials of gas in the kit, which was unearthed near the reservoir.
“It had been buried for decades,” said Capt. Allen Robnett of the Aurora Fire Department.
He said the kit, shaped like a pipe, was dug up in an area known as the Jeep Demolition Range, which is due west of the reservoir.
The 21st Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal team was called in to x-ray the item, according to Air Force Capt. Holly Hess, 21st Space Wing Public Affairs.
“It was completely empty,” Robnett said.
Engineering firms began searching the area with metal detectors and other high tech equipment several years ago.
Robnett said the contractors have found numerous World War II era items.
“Most are inert,” he said.
"[For] anything that may involve any chemicals, they call us out and also call out the Army Corp of Engineers to come out and mitigate," Robnett said.
That’s good news for people like Peter Scoffin, who says he uses the reservoir’s trail system 5 or 6 times a week.
“I have a young daughter,” Scoffin said. “So if there are those types of materials, they need to be brought up, looked at and paid close attention to.”
Robnett said that if the EOD crew had detected vials of gas in the test kit, “they would have called in other experts to deal with it.” He said that process is more time consuming and that it could take weeks to formulate and carry out a plan to neutralize any gas.
According to a website maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers, developers have hired contractors to clear portions of the Former Lowry Bombing and Gunnery Range southwest of the reservoir. It is an area that was used for military training between 1942 and 1963 by the Air Force, Army, Navy and Air National Guard. It was also used for training exercises during the Korean and Vietnam wars.
Items Recovered (as of Oct. 2011)
- 1.4 million inert items
- 26,280 live items
- 674,833 pounds of munitions scrap
The device found this week was unearthed in a mitigation work area behind a sign that says "no unauthorized access."
Authorities say it’s unlikely that anyone would have randomly come across the item.