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Army Prepares For Destruction Of WWI Munitions In D.C.

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The site where the Army Corps of Engineers plans to blow up WW1-era munitions is located behind Sibley Hospital.
Patrick Madden
The site where the Army Corps of Engineers plans to blow up WW1-era munitions is located behind Sibley Hospital.

The Army Corps of Engineers is making its final preparations ahead of next week's planned munitions detonations in the Spring Valley neighborhood of Northwest D.C.

Some residents who live near the site will be able hear the detonations, which are set to begin Tuesday.

The Army Corps is using a detonation chamber to blow up the World War I-era munitions. The Army Corps says it will sound like a car backfiring and residents can expect eight to 10 of them a day.

Project manager Todd Beckwith says detonation chamber is located behind Sibley Hospital, near where the munitions were discovered.

"Destroying the munitions on site is the safest option -- it eliminates the risk of transporting the items through the community," Beckwith says. "The detonation chamber is a proven technology...Our safety plans have been reviewed and approved."

The Army has been searching for, and removing, buried munitions near the site of a former chemical weapons research station for nearly two decades. Last spring, munitions containing chemical warfare agents were destroyed on site. But the upcoming detonations all involve conventional explosives and are expected to take two weeks to complete.

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