City to Talk With Evacuees About Explosives at Scrap Metal Plant
Posted February 16, 2008 5:00 p.m. EST
Updated February 17, 2008 10:14 a.m. EST
Raleigh, N.C. — A Raleigh scrap-metal recycling reopened Saturday after the discovery of military explosives closed the facility for four days.
“The community was very supportive of us being back open. We do feel it's unfortunate that some people were displaced during the day and one evening, and we're sorry that happened,” scrap plant owner Greg Brown said.
At least 18 anti-tank projectiles and three 90 mm rifle rounds were dropped off at Raleigh Metals Recycling last week in a load of scrap. As the material was processed Tuesday, at least one of the devices went off, injuring two plant workers.
Munitions experts from Fort Bragg found unexploded ordnance in the machinery and in bales of scrap at the 2310 Garner Road plant and decided it was safer to detonate the 34 devices at the site than to move them elsewhere.
Thirty-four detonations were used over four days to destroy the devices.
Javier Gomez-Urieta and Salvador Gomez-Urieta were arrested Tuesday on immigration violations and were being held for questioning in the munitions case by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, said Capt. David Smith, of the Sanford Police Department.
Members of the Sanford Police Department's Special Enforcement Unit searched a mobile home at 2725 Carver Drive in Sanford and found artillery shells in the yard similar to the ones that were dropped off at the plant, Smith said.
The FBI and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are also investigating the case.
Employees went through training before the facility reopened, Brown said. An ex-military officer who specializes in munitions taught workers how to distinguish live ammunition from spent shells, he said.
The detonations required Raleigh police to close Garner Road between Rush Street and Newcombe Road every day since Tuesday and forced nearby residents to evacuate their homes three times this week. The residents were allowed to return home Wednesday and Thursday nights and told to leave the next morning as detonations resumed.
Residents said they were relieved to finally be back home Saturday, for good.
“I can relax. I don't have to worry about if I have to ask the officer can I come in. Do I have to leave? It's really been crazy. It's really been crazy,” Crystal Hunter said.
“It was something. It's the worst thing I ever been through,” Fred Joyner Jr. said.
Residents in the Biltmore Hills Apartments received a flier about an upcoming meeting to further explain what happened at the facility that forced them to evacuate.
The meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m. Sunday. Raleigh's mayor, the city manager and the police chief are expected to be in attendance.