In 2004, Harley-Davidson in news for York, Pa., munitions cleanup: ‘The biggest hazard with that stuff is don’t drop it on your toe’

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The circled area in this aerial photograph of the Harley-Davidson plant in Springettsbury Township, Pa., shows the location of munitions pits excavated in 2004. (See additional photograph below.) Also of interest: Three views of York’s Naval Ordnance Depot/AMF/Harley-Davidson plants and All Harley-Davidson posts from the start and Hiker finds remote foundation in York narrows.
Harley-Davidson’s recent thumbs up or thumbs down decision on its future in Springettsbury Township was big news in York County. (It’s thumbs up.)
But the plant has made headlines for years, really since its older part was built in World War II.
U.S. presidents have viewed it as an opportune place to visit. There’s been a good deal of labor-management fighting.
Almost forgotten was an event about five years ago in which the Springettsbury Township site made headlines for no reason of its own. An issue formed behind what Harley’s predecessors left behind.
A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ munitions team moved in after suspected munitions were uncovered as Harley officials surveyed land for possible parking sites… .


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This York Daily Record/Sunday News file photograph shows several munitions found during a removal in 1993. That’s a person’s foot at the bottom to show perspective.
York Naval Ordnance Plant used the land for munitions tests, and other companies occupying the site – York Safe and Lock Co., BlawKnox Co. and American Machine & Foundry Co. – all produced military materiel, meaning weapons or ammunition.
The following is an excerpted York Daily Record/Sunday News story on the Corps of Engineers dig (10/5/09):

The munitions removal team plans to leave Harley- Davidson’s Springettsbury Township plant today, albeit a little behind schedule.
Water had seeped into the two sand-filled firing targets and increased the time it took to suck out and sift through the sand, said Billy Sanders, field manager of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Ordnance removal workers calculate quantities in terms of five-gallon buckets. This team gathered 104 buckets, and each bucket holds anywhere from 35 to 50 munitions.
“We had piles of ( munitions) that came out of those firing butts,” Sanders said.
Previous owners left material on the property.
The ordnance removal team found nothing in one of the two misfire pits.
If anything had been found in the pit, it may have had a live propellant. The low explosive material on the munitions’ trains was to help the munitions fly through the air.
If any misfire rounds had been found, the team was prepared to place them and less than a pound of explosives into a hole and cover them with wood and sandbags before detonating them.
Nothing was destroyed, Sanders said.
“Absolutely nothing containing explosives — not even black powder — was found,” Sanders said.
After finding the pit empty, the crew removed the concrete and filled the hole with soil.
Though the Army Corps members didn’t have to remove the pit, they didn’t want to leave it for others to believe it contained munitions.
The crew had been looking for a second misfire pit that they believed existed based on information from former plant workers. Sanders said they didn’t find the second pit.
He and Sharon Fisher, environmental engineer at Harley- Davidson, believe the second pit was removed decades ago when some utilities were added.
Sanders said the buckets of metal were shredded. All other materials were or will be disposed of by Harley.
Fisher said none of the items will remain on site. They will be taken to landfills or hazardous waste sites in Pennsylvania, but she would not specify where.

Their findings apparently confirmed a comment made earlier that summer by a corps ordnance and explosive safety expert: “The biggest hazard with that stuff is don’t drop it on your toe.”
Other posts with aerial views:
Just try to resist studying this memory-tugging photograph
Just try to resist studying this memory-tugging Sears photograph, Part II
Just try to resist this memory-tugging photo of North York’s White Oak Park
Just try to resist this memory-tugging aerial photograph of York Whitehull Airport and York Valley Inn and Playland and …
So, can you find long-gone Springwood Park in this aerial photograph?
Camp Security area of Springettsbury Township from the air
Columbia-Wrightsville Susquehanna River bridges from the air.
Just try to resist this memory-tugging photograph of northwest York, Pa.
Just try to resist this memory-tugging aerial photograph of York’s Roosevelt Avenue Airport.
Memorial Stadium, now Bob Hoffman Stadium, built to keep professional baseball in York.
In York-area, famous Olmsted design firm left legacy in Wyndham Hills.
Three views of York’s Naval Ordnance Depot/AMF/Harley-Davidson plants.

About Jim McClure

Editor of the York Daily Record/Sunday News, ydr.com and its many digital products. East Region Editor, Digital First Media. Journalism/history blogger: yorktownsquare.com. Author or co-author of seven York County, Pa., history books.
This entry was posted in Archives, all posts, Events, For photo fans, Harley-Davidson, Local journalism & Web, Local landmarks, Made in York, War, World War II, York Safe & Lock. Bookmark the permalink.

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