Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Scioto Ordnance Plant

I have always viewed WWII as the last serious war the United States was in (actually it may have been the last declared war). Sure a lot of people died in Korea, Vietnam and Iraq etc but in WWII the United States was truly involved and the government forced everyone to be involved. Part of that involvement was the removal of personal freedoms and properties right. I was recently reading about one of those takeover operations; the Scioto Ordnance Plant and how ordinary citizens as well as soldiers made enormous sacrifices for the war effort. The Scioto Ordnance Plant was an ammunitions and bomb making facility built in Marion County, Ohio by the United States Army in 1942. The plant operated until 1945 when production wound down. In 1942 the War Department used the power of eminent domain to purchase the homes and farms of 126 families in the Likens Chapel community of Marion, Ohio. Families who owned property within the zone identified for the facility were notified March 2, 1942 that they had to vacate their land by May 1, 1942 (two months). Not only did this mean that the displaced had to find a place to live in the midst of a housing and fuel shortage, but it also meant moving and/or selling livestock and agricultural equipment. Federal contractors began removing field fencing in April 1942. While land owners received a "fair" valuation for their property, relocation expenses were not paid. Several property owners claimed that they never received any compensation from the government.

After May 1, 1942, most of the farmsteads located inside the perimeter were leveled; underground bunkers and production buildings were built in clusters throughout the SOP site. By June 1942 Scioto Ordnance Plant was employing 2,900 employees, many of who moved north from Southern Ohio and Kentucky for the high paying wages offered.

Once in operation, the plant (under the operation of U.S. Rubber) produced fuses and boosters, 20 mm bullets, 50 caliber bullets, 50 caliber artillery shells, 65 mm shells and 75 mm shells. Incendiary bombs and napalm barrel bombs, similar to those used on Dresden by Allied forces were also produced at the site. Munitions containers served duel duty by carrying Scioto Ordnance Plant products overseas, and then doubling as coffins for those killed in action.

After WWII part of the facility was a storage area for some early night vision devices, known as "metascopes." or "sniper scopes." This Army equipment used radioactive sources as part of their mechanism. The measured radiation exposures in the metascope storage area were rather high. Radioactive material was spilled after World War II at the Scioto Ordnance facility contributing to additional problems today. It is now on the Cleanup Projects list of on FUDS Properties.

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