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There are bombs in the bay!
A group of Brooklyn divers have found unexploded ammunition that’s been under shallow Gravesend Bay for more than 50 years — a discovery that gives weight to a Bensonhurst lawmaker’s argument against a proposed garbage facility near the South Brooklyn waterway.
For the past two years, Assemblyman William Colton has insisted that the bottom of the bay was home to a bevy of live anti-aircraft shells, which fell off a military barge that overturned during a storm in 1954.
Colton said that the shells could explode if the city dredged the bay to make way for trash-transferring barges, which would be based at the garbage facility planned for Shore Parkway and Bay 41st Steet. However, the U.S. Navy never confirmed that the shells were lost and there has been very little proof that the ammo lay underwater.
This weekend, the Cultural Research Divers had planned a descent into Gravesend Bay to photograph a few small shells that they found last year. Instead, as first reported by the New York Post, they uncovered 1,500 large-caliber machine-gun shells made to explode on contact, and eight World War II-era copper artillery shells that are designed to shoot down airplanes.
The divers say that the shells, which lay just 20 feet underwater, came from the same Navy accident that Colton cited in his case to the state Department of Enviornmental Conservation against the waste transfer plan.
“The ammunition has officially been found, so it needs to be a factor in the city’s decision,” Colton said. “It would be very negligent to approve the garbage transfer facility now that this has come to light.”
The state has not yet issued a decision, but said three weeks ago that the city’s application includes ways to make the dredging safer. However, that statement came before the divers’ bombs discovery.
“The issue regarding unexploded ammunition was raised and is part of the record on which the final decision will be made,” said Department of Environmental Conservation spokeswoman Michelle Moore, who declined to comment about whether or not the state is planning to clean up the ammo in the bay.
Sanitation officials say they haven’t altered plans to dredge the bay and downplayed the discovery.
“If there are any ammunitions, they are more than 50-years-old,” said spokesman Keith Mellis. “[The city] will take the necessary precautions when the dredging operation begins.”
The ammunition isn’t the first major discovery by the Cultural Research Divers, led by Gene Ritter. In 2009 the team recovered a brass bell from Coney Island’s old Dreamland Park, which sank to the bottom of the sea during a 1911 fire.
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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