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U.S. Funded Bulgaria Ammo clean-up complete

MOSCOW, July 26 — The U.S.-funded clean-up of a Bulgarian munitions depot that was wracked by explosions in July 2008 has been successfully completed, U.S. Ambassador to Bulgaria James Warlick said on Wednesday, the Sofia news agency reported.

The US$ 18-million effort to clean up unexploded ordnance for kilometers around the Chelopechene munitions depot following a 2008 explosion took nearly a year to complete.

“Some of you were here and remember that in some places there were knee-high piles of smoldering, unstable munitions," Warlick said.

U.S.-based company Sterling International was sub-contracted to complete the sub-surface clearance work.

Over 130,000 live shells and more than 70 tons of scrap munitions were extracted from the ground.

The U.S. Embassy in Sofia stressed that the United States is a leading donor for conventional weapons destruction around the world, having provided nearly US$ 2 billion since 1993 to destroy military arms and munitions, help clean up munitions depots that have blown up, clear landmines, provide mine risk education, and render mine survivors assistance in more than 90 countries.

On July 3, 2008, the military storage facility near the village of Chelopechene outside the Bulgarian capital Sofia exploded with blasts continuing for days. The explosions engulfed ammo processing facilities with 2,500 metric tons of conventional munitions and 20 tons of TNT.

No one was injured but the residents of the nearby villages of Chelopech and Chepintsi were evacuated. (PNA/RIA Novosti) CTB/rsm

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