Local News

Butner Family Fears For Safety; Unexploded Shells Found In Neighborhood

Posted September 6, 2002

— Some families in the Granville County town of Butner fear their next step could be their last. In the past two years, two unexploded artillery shells have been found in their neighborhood. Their homes sit on land that was used for Army training during World War II.

Justin Cash, 2, has to stay on the porch each day for his own safety. His 9-year-old brother picked up a 37 mm round last November after finding it under some leaves.

"I'm glad that my child is not dead. I'm blessed every day, and I think about it every day that he is still here with me," homeowner Kimberly Cash said.

In August, an explosives team found and detonated a second shell on the Cash property. For the past two years, the Army Corps of Engineers has been searching for live explosives around the former Camp Butner, which the Army closed 50 years ago. They have turned up mostly fragments and trash, but they have detonated 5 live shells.

"Each item that is unburied is treated in the same manner as if it was an ordinance," said John Kertesz, a subcontractor for the Army Corps of Engineers.

The homes at Lakeview Estates are no more than seven years old, but some say they did not know they were building on a potential mine field.

"I would never have ever purchased a piece of property that had that kind of potential hazard," Cash said.

"When the Army turned the property over for private ownership, it was made very clear in the deeds what use the land had been put to," said Penny Schmitt, spokeswoman for the Army Corps of Engineers.

The subdivision is outside the official search area, so it may be months before the Army Corps of Engineers will search there, so the Cash family is moving.

"Probably this weekend is the last that we're going to be here," said Danny Cash, Kimberly's husband.

The Army Corps of Engineers' current survey of old Camp Butner is scheduled to end next month. With new shells being found in Lakeview Estates, the Corps will likely extend its search, but it will need new federal funding to do so.

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