Barrels in the Lake

<Posted 21 Sept 2010>
When I was stationed at Loring (1977-1980), the Weapons Storage Area (where I worked) was quite a bit smaller than when it was originally built as "North River Depot" or "East Loring".  Actually, the existing WSA in the late 1970's was probably only 1/6th of it's original size.  The entire area that ran around the lake was not in use, and none of the support buildings outside the fence were used, except for the Vehicle Maintenance storage.  In the Google Maps below, the red outline is the original size, and the green outline to include the far right side is the size in use when I was stationed there (the pinpoint in the green area  is the IMF, where I worked, for Short Range Attack Missile maintenance).



Being young and ignorant, I never thought to ask the history of the WSA.  If I had, there were people working there who surely would remember the larger East Loring, and would've probably enjoyed telling their stories.  Ahhh, youth is such ignorance!

Any way, I don't remember why, but one day at lunch three of us decided to walk around the lake (lower left corner of the photo), and do some exploring.  Again, at this time it was not secured, not in use, and as far as we knew, was just a lake.  Off we go, and as we are walking to the shore, we start noticing little signs, RADIOLOGICAL signs, like the ones we see in the WSA.  These are where rags, etc, used to clean out the warhead's during maintenance are buried.  The signs are still there, and probably still there to this day.

As we begin walking around the lake, (I can remember it clearly - sunny day, not too hot, clear skies) we comment on how peaceful it is and how green the water looks.  Don't see any fish or evidence of any fish.  As we get to the far side of the lake, I notice something in the water.  We look a little closer, and sure enough, there are what appear to be 50 gallon barrel's (not sure if they were metal, plastic, rubber, etc) at the bottom of the lake, probably no more than 50 feet out.  The water is clear enough so that you can see them sitting on the bottom.

Well, being ignorant young Airmen, we don't think TOO much of it (of course, I wasn't stupid enough to wonder what the heck is in those barrels!), and we continue on around the lake.  

We end our "tour" by going by the very building that, years and years later, some civilians (one of which I believe I remembered as a military member) got exposed to Radon gas when they opened it for inspection.  There were signs on it, I believe, warning of some danger...

Later that day, we also went to the other side of the East Loring road, and looked at the old East Loring buildings.  On one of them, was a sign warning of PCB's, again, this was found much later when they did the closing inspection and had to decontaminate it.  As far as I know, PCB's were primarly used in power transformers, and who knows how many of those things began leaking!

Some 33 years later, I still wonder what was in those barrels at the bottom of the lake, and if they are still there.  
I remember reading about the Environmental studies done when Loring closed, and how they cleaned up the WSA, but in all the reports I read there was never any mention of inspecting that lake...kind of a mystery that I wish I knew the answer to!

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