Winter in Unalaska by Sam Zmolek
Your voice in the Aleutians.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
The KUCB Newsroom provides newscasts Monday through Thursday at noon and 5 PM on KUCB Radio. You can find many of our local news stories here.

Army Corps to begin cleanup efforts at Fort Learnard in Unalaska Bay

Courtesy of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Fort Learnard, a former World War II military outpost, housed anti-aircraft and anti-ship artillery at Eider Point, on the western side of Unalaska Bay.

The Army Corps of Engineers is preparing to clean up Fort Learnard, a former World War II military outpost in Unalaska Bay.

The fort housed anti-aircraft and anti-ship artillery at Eider Point, on the western side of the bay.

The site was decommissioned after the war, and the artillery and munitions were exploded to dispose of them. But according to the corps, the explosion was not done in a controlled way.

“Fragments, and sometimes whole pieces of ammunition, were kicked out of the explosion,” said Ellen McDermott, who works with an engineering firm contracted for the cleanup. At a public meeting held in April, she said more than 200 munitions have been found in the area around Fort Learnard, most recently in 2016.

“The frequency with which items are found at the site suggests that there are a fair number of projectiles still out there, and we don't know where they are,” McDermott said.

The corps plans to visit the site later in May for a preliminary survey, and the actual cleanup is slated for 2024.

If you find munitions while recreating, don’t attempt to touch or handle them. Carefully exit the area from the same direction you came from and call 911 immediately.

Theo Greenly reports from the Aleutians as a Report for America corps member. He got his start in public radio at KCRW in Santa Monica, California, and has produced radio stories and podcasts for stations around the country.
Related Content
  • The Environmental Protection Agency has stepped up to take the lead in coordinating the cleanup of contaminated lands that were conveyed to Alaska Native communities, according to U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski.
  • The Army Corps of Engineers visited Unalaska in late June to teach Unalaskans about unexploded ordnance — that is, undetonated explosives. The U.S. military left lots of unexploded ordnance when they were stationed in the Aleutian Islands during World War II. And grenades, chemical weapons and other munitions have been turning up on the island’s hiking trails and beaches for decades.
  • The Army Corps of Engineers is moving closer to dealing with a contaminated World War II-era military site long abandoned in the Aleutian Islands. At a meeting Wednesday night in Unalaska, representatives from the Army Corps of Engineers said they would send a contractor to Chernofski Harbor in May. They aim to remove around 800 tons of soil and debris that was contaminated by diesel oil tanks during World War II. The cleanup site covers more than 1,200 acres in Chernofski Harbor, on the southwestern edge of Unalaska Island. Chernofski village was inhabited for thousands of years, but people stopped living there in the early 20th century, and the navy operated a port there from 1942 to 1945.