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Work underway to remove residue from WWII training

KINGMAN, Ariz. -- Kingman's history as the site of a World War II base for training gunners on B-17 bombers isn't just part of the Mohave County community's distant past. The Army Corps of Engineers has returned to Kingman because of soil contamination from residue from the wartime training conducted seven decades ago.

The base included a skeet shooting range where soldiers practiced gunnery by shooting at clay targets called pigeons, the Kingman Daily Miner reported Tuesday.

The work now underway is to remove and replace soil that contains clay fragments with potentially dangerous chemicals found in coal tar used in making the targets.

A handful of people have temporarily moved out of their homes to accommodate the work, with some staying with relatives and others staying in hotels at government expense while the work is done.

``It's an inconvenience, but we're retired, so it's not too bad for us,'' said Joyce Stutzman, who is staying in a hotel with her husband, Dannie, for about a week. ``I'm sure it's a major inconvenience for the families with children.''

Project manager Fran Firouzi said some of the 52 properties that are included in the project have homes on them while others are vacant lots.

In 1996, the Corps examined the area where the range was located, looking for high explosives and ammunition. No high explosives were found.

The Corps returned in 2010 to test the soil for contaminants and found chemicals that can cause cancer and other ailments through chronic exposure over several years.

To remove the threat, the top 2 feet of soil is being removed and replaced with clean soil, along with new landscaping, Firouzi said. The contaminated soil will be disposed of in a hazardous waste facility, she said.

Soil under homes, streets, sidewalks and driveways will not be removed.

Work on the initial 10 properties should be finished in the next month, Firouzi said.

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