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Subject: Storage of ammunition

Storage of ammunition

From: Jonathan M. Leader <leaderj>
Date: Monday, October 19, 1998
Barbara Hamann <bhaman [at] missc__state__wy__us> writes

>The Wyoming State Museum has a collection of small arms ammunition,
>manufactured between 1860 and 1960, some of which was disarmed a
>number of years ago, some of which might still be live.  We would
>like to store this collection in the safest manner possible until it
>can be completely surveyed, and then disarmed or destroyed as
>necessary.


The storage of live ammunition requires a cool dry climate in an
OSHA approved explosives container and storage area. My personal
preference is for a dedicated space away from normal storage areas
frequented by staff. This requires that staff be identified for
monitoring the ammunition area in addition to any other areas
already on a monitoring schedule.

You should proceed as quickly as possible to your next phase, which
is the survey and disarming or destruction of the small arms
cartridges. Clearly disarming would be best, if feasible, allowing
the museum to continue to house a study/exhibit collection of small
arms cartridges and ball.

If it is any consolation, you are not alone in having problems with
live ammunition. SCIAA is finishing the disarming of our last 2.9"
Confederate Parrott guns (4 of 4). All of the 15 explosive
fragmentation shells recovered from the other Parrotts were loaded
and fused. In our case, the cannons were found in situ, multiple
shell loaded, and spiked in the face of Sherman's advance. This made
them unique and their shells extremely important. It took almost 12
years to devise the best method for safe removal and build the
equipment. In the process we consulted with EOD units and explosive
experts of the Army, Marines, SLED, FBI, SCAANG, and local law
enforcement. Their input was invaluable, although none of them had
ever dealt with precisely this situation. Fortunately, your
situation is much more common and less threatening.

We have also had quite a bit of experience in disarming black and
nitro powdered rim and centerfire cartridges. If we can help you,
agency to agency, let me know.

Jonathan M. Leader, Ph.D.
USC-SCIAA
1321 Pendleton Street
Columbia, SC  29208
803-777-8170
Fax: 803-254-1338

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                  Conservation DistList Instance 12:38
                Distributed: Thursday, October 22, 1998
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Received on Monday, 19 October, 1998

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