Frozen explosives

Halifax has been called a city of disasters: this is where the Titanic’s survivors and the bodies retrieved at the scene were brought in 1912. In 1917, the explosion that leveled so much of the North End occurred in the Harbour. And in 1945, near the Bedford Basin (and in what is now Halifax Regional Municipality), an explosion of munitions occurred in a stockpile maintained by the Navy.

When the 1945 explosion occurred there (caused by a barge colliding with the magazine jetty), fires went on for a day and, not surprisingly, ammunition was scattered fairly widely. Just as beachcombers in France and Scotland sometimes come across World War II shells (the munitions type in addition to the sea life type), there remains some stuff unrecovered in this general area, Magazine Hill. But here’s the science fact I didn’t know: apparently frost causes unexploded ordnance to pop up to the surface. Now there’s an experiment you don’t want to try at home.

This came to my attention in a small article in today’s paper. After a week of relatively balmy weather, a new cold front moved in on Monday. On Wednesday, the RCMP closed Magazine Hill for a bit so that some frozen-out shells could be detonated.

Another article, even more of a headshaker for me, was the report of a lawsuit by a customer who had been hit by a falling mannequin at a department store in town (recently, not in 1945). Things seem to move here that elsewhere might be mistaken for relative stability. No earthquakes, certainly, but….


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