HELENA, Mont. – An Air Force bomb disposal unit blew up dozens of damaged projectiles along a rural Montana highway and recovered hundreds more after a truck hauling Navy weapons was in a crash earlier this month, military officials said.
The crash involving the military truck and two commercial trucks happened in severe winter conditions on Feb. 11 on U.S. Highway 212 in southeastern Montana. Details about the truck's cargo were only released this week by 28th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal team based in Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota.
The truck was carrying a shipment of U.S. Navy-owned military munitions and traveling after dark in blowing snow along the snow-covered roadway surrounded by ranchland, military and Montana Highway Patrol officials said. The crash happened on a hillcrest near a curve, when one truck crossed the centerline of the highway and struck another truck heading in the opposite direction, patrol Sgt. Dan Martin said Friday.
A third truck then crashed into the first two and ended up in a ditch. No injuries or property damage was reported.
The six-member disposal unit was called to the scene and used 128 pounds (58 kilograms) of explosives to detonate 60 hazardous munitions that were damaged, Air Force Lt. Daniel Rosenfield said. The unit recovered 420 other projectiles.
"All damaged projectiles were disposed of by detonating the hazardous munitions near the site of the vehicle accident," Rosenfield said. "There are no known environmental impacts as a result of the accident. Throughout the cleanup process, responding Airmen took the potential threats to life and environment seriously."
Rosenfield referred a query for details about the projectiles to Navy officials, who did not respond to an email requesting comment.
Martin said Department of Defense officials sealed off the crash site and didn't let the trooper who responded near the trucks.
"He wasn't allowed to go in and touch the vehicles because DOD said they don't want anyone in there," Martin said. "Once DOD got done with what they needed to do, the vehicles were retrieved by tow companies."
The driver who crossed the center line was cited for causing the crash. Martin declined to identify the driver, but said it was not the person who was transporting the munitions.