Press Conference at Chelopechene, Bulgaria
On 18 August 2011, Mr Dorijan Marši?, ITF Director, Mr Valentin Radev, Deputy Minister of Defence of the Republic of Bulgaria, Mr James Warlick, US Ambassador in Bulgaria and representative of implementing organisation Sterling International attended a media field visit in Chelopechene organized by US Embassy in Sofia. ITF Director explained the importance of the project, which may last up to 18 months with the main aim to safely recover and safely remove all identifiable UXO (estimated at approximately 1,500 tons) from 03 July 2008 blast area at the Bulgarian military’s Chelopechene munitions depot, and close the facility. The project will increase the safety of the people living in the area and also safeguard the main highway, which is less than 500 meters from the site and which serves Sofia, the capital. Additionally, this project will reduce the surplus stockpile of munitions in Bulgaria.
ITF signed US Department of State (Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement) Federal Assistance Award on 26 April 2011 for more than 3,1 million USD in order to implement a second phase of the Chelopechene clean-up including the sub-surface at Technical Area 3 (33.000 sq.meters) implemented by Sterling International from May 2011. In addition to surface and deep sub-surface clearance in the blast area, 220.000 square meters of nearby river channels and small lakes will also be cleared of UXO that kicked out during the explosions at the depot.
Recently occurred explosions of ammunition depots, two of them in Gerdec (Albania) and Chelopechene (Bulgaria), show that these facilities are often improperly maintained and consequently present big threat to human security. Therefore ITF expended its wide area of activities also on destruction of surplus ammunition and weapons and to ensure and contribute to safe ammunition depots.