No…………Body………..Move or sneeze or burp or
Well, dear reader, it’s been an interesting few days. Just up the road from my new abode they are constructing a third river crossing, it’s been thirty years in discussion, three years in building and should be operational by May this year – providing they are no more snaffoo like this week.
Tuesday morning a little left-over from 1942 was dredged up from the river beside the construction area. A one meter long, 250lb bomb, that for the past 81 years has napped through thunderstorms, heavy vibrating ships and boats slowly trundling over it, the rumbling of lorries and vehicles along the road beside it, even the pile driving of the river wall strengthening and outer harbour construction, not to mention the seismic waves when the nearby power station chimneys were demolished.
Police closed roads and began evacuating homes and businesses, placing a 100m cordon around the area. After the Bomb Squad arrived they extended the cordon to mandatory evacuation up to 200m and voluntary but strongly advised 400m zones. This included a small dementia home, who have stayed put but have their minibus and trailer packed with kit and essentials should it become necessary.
The local newspaper has been keeping a ‘live update’ page going throughout the day, giving much needed info such as where evacuation centres are, which roads are closed, the consequential congestion (at one time traffic was moving at the heady speed of a whole two miles per hour!). As well as some typical local media style reporting, like, “Warnings that car windows and camera lenses could crack if….” Proper Pulitzer stuff!
It was decided that a 400 ton sand house would be built around Berty Bomb before any attempts to defuse it could begin. Now 400 ton isn’t a couple of lorry loads and most of Wednesday was taken with getting the sand in place. It looks like sand was compacted into large bags that were then placed, brick like, immediately around the bomb, then a second wall built around that. Then a ceiling of sand was added. A walkway barely wide enough for a beefy bloke or robot to fit through snaked between the sand walls.
All was progressing well until …… “I say chaps, has anyone checked utility maps” slightly blank faces.
“Bally eck, there are gas pipelines under the road!!”
No doubt tea was brewed as tools were downed and a clutch of technicals got their calculators out and recalibrated their thoughts.
Of course, I’m paraphrasing and making light, but how come it hadn’t occurred sooner.
The plan seems to be, after the sand has settled, to send in Robo to start cutting into the bomb, to defuse the detonation circuits and make it ‘safe’, for it then to be taken out to sea, strapped to a better bomb, sunk and then detonated.
Another hold up, water is getting into the area and compromising the sand walls – we’ve all been there with our beach sandcastles. Repairs are needed before Robo can continue his delicate cutting. It seemed the cutting equipment was causing the water build up, so another stoppage and brew up to decide on another option to defuse. The slow burn was the only option left.
And then ………….
Berty unexpectedly went boom.
Thankfully all personnel working the area are unharmed and accounted for. It seems no property or vehicles have been damaged either. Where I am (under half a mile if the crow flies straight) it rattled the newly installed fire doors and echoed through the corridor but the earth didn’t move.