City Leaders Talk With Scrap Metal Evacuees
Posted February 17, 2008 7:31 p.m. EST
Updated February 18, 2008 9:18 a.m. EST
Raleigh, N.C. — About 100 people living near Raleigh Metals Recycling talked with city leaders Sunday about the evacuations and sleepless nights they experienced when explosives were found at the facility.
Last week, at least 18 anti-tank projectiles and three 90 mm rifle rounds were dropped off at the 2310 Garner Road plant. As the material was processed Tuesday, at least one of the devices went off, injuring two plant workers.
Munitions experts from Fort Bragg later found unexploded ordnance in the machinery and in bales of scrap. They decided it was safer to detonate the 34 devices at the site rather than move them elsewhere.
Because of the detonations, the city made nearby residents evacuate. The residents were allowed to return home Wednesday and Thursday nights, but were told to be out in the mornings as detonations resumed.
Some residents said Sunday that they were upset that city leaders were not there when the evacuations began.
"We wanted them out here to tell us, to make us feel more like other citizens,” Billy Battle said.
For 55 minutes Sunday, residents voiced their concerns over the evacuations with the mayor, a city council member, two county commission members, the city manager and the police chief.
"Technically, we could have moved them (devices), but these devices were so explosive and so damaging that, rest assured, you did not want us moving them,” Raleigh Police Chief Harry Dolan said.
Some residents said that in light of what happened last week, they want the recycling plant moved away from their homes.
"I would like to see the place really out of the neighborhood,” Battle said.
Raleigh Metals Recycling's owner said that would not happen, but that he would no longer be accepting any type of used ammunition.
"I'm no longer going to differentiate between spent and unspent. I'm just not going to take any,” Greg Brown said.
Someone sold a load of scrap metal to the plant nearly two weeks ago, and workers didn't recognize the shells as live ammunition, Brown said.
A woman who had to pay for an ambulance to evacuate her mother asked the owner Sunday about getting reimbursed. Brown said he has contacted his insurance company about expenses like that.
"Whatever expenses are appropriate, we'll of course make sure it's compensated,” he said.
The mayor said the city council would be looking into whether rules need to be changed concerning what recycling companies can accept.
Meanwhile, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were holding Javier Gomez-Urieta and Salvador Gomez-Urieta for questioning in the munitions case and on immigration charges.
They are scheduled to be in court Thursday.