WWII bombs in Apeldoorn pose bigger risk than expected

German troops in WWII (Photo: Wikimedia Commons/U.S. National Archives and Records Administration). (German troops in WWII (Photo: Wikimedia Commons/U.S. National Archives and Records Administration))

German explosives left behind in the woods around Apeldoorn after the Second World War, pose a larger threat than previously thought, according to a report by TNO and the fire brigade. If there is a fire, the area is too dangerous for firefighters to enter, which could result in uncontrollable fires that could threaten residential areas as well as numerous attractions, AD reports.

This report was commissioned by Apeldoorn in the hope that it will emphasize the importance of cleaning up the explosives and convince the government to invest more into the operation. The explosives are the remants of Germany's largest ammunition storage in WWII.

By now the material is so unstable that it could spontaneously ignite - phosphorus in the explosives may start a wildfire at any time. And the fire department worries that such a fire could get "uncontrollable". Depending on where it starts and which way it spreads, such a fire could threaten holiday parks and attractions such as Palace Het Loo, the Aardhuis, the Julianatoren and Apenheul. The military air traffic control in Nieuw Milligen, and the towns Uddel, Hoog Soeren and Berge en Bos could also be in danger.

The report refers to a large wildfire on the Uddelse Heide in 2006 to demonstrate how dangerous a fire in the area could be. Firefighters had to withdraw from the area after explosions sounded. "We knew that there was ammunition", firefighter Constantijn Kok said. "That the impact was so great, we did not realize before" The igniting explosives make firefighters' jobs even more dangerous. "It's fireworks that shoot shards at you."

The ammunition comes from 300 storage sites in the woods near Hoog Soeren. By the end of WWII, there was about 25 thousand tons of ammunition in the area. The Germans tried to destroy the ammunition, but with little success. The destruction was later continued by the Allies, but only a third of the ammunition exploded. The rest were thrown hundreds of meters away or buried several meters into the ground.