But Centcom still waiting on City Hall to allocate budget for bomb disposal
The detonation and disposal of 23 World War II vintage bombs that were unearthed from Kawit Island in the South Road Properties (SRP) may take a little while longer.
This after the military’s Central Command said they reconsidered detonating and disposing of the bombs in a hilly portion of barangay Pwente, Carmen town, in northern Cebu after a survey showed that it was a “high tension wire” area.
Lt. Col. Christopher Tampus, Centcom spokesman, said this means that the site contained many power lines.
He said the bombs will instead be transported to barangay Biasong, Balamban town, for detonation.
“We still have to wait for the available materials for demolition like C4 bombs. The Cebu city government will provide the C4,” Tampus said.
He said the Cebu city government didn’t provide a time frame for the disposal of the bombs.
Tampus said the Cebu city government will secure the funds to purchase the C4 bombs.
“Initial computation is 125 blocks of C4 are needed to detonate the 23 vintage bombs,” he told Cebu Daily News.
Tampus said they also requested 30 or more personnel from the Cebu city government to help carry the vintage bombs.
He said the area in Biasong is 200 meters away from the nearest accessible road.
Tampus said the “exposed” vintage bomb, which leaked picric acid, will be secured properly.
“We will wrap it (exposed vintage bomb) with wet materials and cover and seal it with plastic,” Tampus said in Cebuano.
Tampus said the Cebu city government will provide two dump trucks to transport the vintage bombs.
He said it is unlikely that the vintage bombs will blow up in the SRP unless they are exposed to fire.
Carmen Mayor Martin Gerard Villamor said a Centcom team was accompanied by Carmen police in visiting barangay Pwente.
He said while it is hilly, barangay Pwente is located along the highway and may be unsafe for the detonation.
Military and police personnel were also advised to consider the immediate surrounding environment and the communities living in them in their detonation and disposal of the 23 World War II vintage bombs.
Senior geologist Al Emil Berador of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau in Central Visayas (MGB-7) said the bomb specialists should assess the area for any cracks and see if it is landslide prone.
Berador said their geohazard mapping determines the landslide susceptibility of the areas in Central Visayas based on rainwater flow and flooding occurrence and not on explosions caused by bombs.
“There are different factors on these instances,” he said.
A bomb expert of the Naval Special Operations Group (NAVSOG) also said the community and the local government involved should take part in the disposal of the bombs.
Lt. Commander Leo Dimoc, NAVSOG Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technician, said since each bomb weighs 250 pounds, its condition and the area where it would be detonated should be evaluated.
He said they have to determine the net explosive weight of each bomb to determine the safe blast distance from which it will be set off.
Dimoc said these factors are based on international EOD standards.
Dimoc underwent a seven-month Basic Naval EOD Course at the Naval EOD School in Florida.
He also took part in the EOD trainings of the joint PH-US Balikatan exercises.
A member of the 2nd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Battalion who requested anonymity for security reasons told Cebu Daily News that they will have to dig at least four feet below the ground for the bombs unearthed at the SRP.
The blast distance will have to be at least one kilometer away from any community.
Kawit point, formerly Kawit Islandm, was reportedly used as a storage room for the bombs during World War II.
The vintage bombs were unearthed by construction workers early this week.
On Oct. 25, 1904, an executive order of the American colonial government placed the 3.9-hectare island under the jurisdiction of the government’s health ministry, now the Department of Health, for quarantine purposes.
In May 2008 then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued Proclamation 1505, which amended the 1904 order and declared Kawit Island as “alienable and disposable” land.
One of the bombs that was unearthed by construction workers leaked picric acid, which caused discoloration of seawater.
Those assigned to transport the bombs are required to wear long sleeves, gloves and mask to prevent skin contact and inhalation.
Senior Supt. Melvin Ramon Buenafe, Cebu City police chief, said the SRP area was sealed off from outsiders. /By Rhea Ruth V. Rosell, Candeze R. Mongaya and Carmel Loise Matus with MultiMedia Coordinator Marian Z. Codilla and Correspondent Chito Aragon