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Corps destroys anti-tank rockets at Alabama base

GADSDEN (AP) — Two World War II rockets found and destroyed during the cleanup of an old Army base once used for chemical weapons training did not contain toxic material, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Thursday.

Marilyn Phipps, a spokeswoman for the agency, said the two munitions were conventional anti-tank rockets. They were unearthed and detonated Wednesday during the cleanup of what used to be Camp Sibert, the nation’s largest chemical weapons training camp during the 1940s.

“This is the first pair of rockets we’ve found,” she said.

The 2.36-inch rockets were covered with sandbags and blown up near the spot where they were discovered.

Contractors have been using metal detectors since April 2006 to remove shells at the old military base, which lies southwest of Gadsden and is now mostly farm land.

Phipps said the search has turned up 22 mortar shells believed to contain chemical agents, although the exact contents have not been determined.

Camp Sibert was used to train about 5,000 troops from 1942 to 1945 with chemical agents including mustard gas and lewisite. Today, almost 50,000 people live on or near the property.

State officials ordered the Army to clean up the acreage in 2006 after a study ranked Sibert as being the worst in the nation among old military sites for the hazard of unexploded weapons.

A mortar round found in 2001 near a home on the Sibert property contained phosgene, a liquid choking agent that can be fatal.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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