Ordnance disposal experts are still working to remove a suspected military munition found on the conveyer belt at a Milford clam-processing plant this morning.


Ordnance disposal experts are still working to remove a suspected military munition found on the conveyer belt at a Milford clam-processing plant this morning.

Technicians from the Dover Air Force Base's Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team were first called to Sea Watch International, located off Road 14 in Milford, at about 9 a.m. after plant employees responsible for separating clams discoverd what appeared to be a leaking ordnance, according to DAFB spokesman Senior Airman Jacob Morgan.

Sea Watch was evacuated as a precaution and as many as six employees were sent to Milford Memorial Hospital for evaluation and later released. Various responding agencies and the hospital have given conflicting reports about the number of employees who were examined.

Morgan said the base's explosive ordnance team was able to confirm that the ordnance is leaking an as-yet-unidentified chemical.

"When they approached [the ordnance] to test it, they discovered that some kind of chemical agent was present," he said. "We're not sure what type of chemical it is yet. The entire area has been cordoned off and no injuries have been reported."

Morgan said an Army team from the 20th Support Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland has arrived at Sea Watch and will help determine the nature of the chemical agent.

However Ryan Knowles, a spokesman for Carlisle Fire Company of Milford, said some emergency responders on the scene believe the chemical to be mustard gas, a chemical warfare agent that can cause extreme itching, skin irritation and chemical burns.

The ordnance is believed to have been brought into Sea Watch with a batch of clams collected from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean. The Army is known to have dumped surplus explosive in the ocean in the past.

"It looks like it might be an ordnance from the World War I or World War II era," Knowles said.

As of 7 p.m., ordnance disposal technicians were still working to identify and dispose of the munition. Morgan said they are expected to remain on the scene for several more hours.

Additional details about this story will be reported as they become available.