A CONSTRUCTION worker picked up a hand grenade to move it to a safer location in Wodonga yesterday did so because the weapon appeared to be stable.
The grenade was found covered in mud about 9.15am on a building site next to the WAVES aquatic centre where work was being undertaken by BRB Modular and AP Delaney and Co.
BRB Modular safety officer Daryle Austin picked up the
grenade and moved it underneath a steel excavation bucket.
“It’s not every day you find a hand grenade,” he said.
“I had a quick look at it and I could see that it was intact.
“It looked reasonably stable.
“I thought I’d take a bit of a chance I suppose … I did a quick risk assessment.”
Mr Austin said he believed the grenade may have been unearthed by trucks on the former army site.
He said the pin was still in place when he picked it up and he was not too concerned it would explode.
“It was at the back of a truck,” he said.
“I had a good look at it and determined it wasn’t too bad.
“I thought I was better off relocating it, being a construction site, and called police.”
About 12 staff who had been working at the site were evacuated.
Police contacted army explosive ordnance disposal personnel, who arrived at the site yesterday afternoon.
Police had initially blocked access to Peeler Street but re-opened the road after about an hour.
The area that is now part of the White Box Rise housing development had previously been used as an army munitions training area and storage facility.
Last night the Department of Defence confirmed army explosive ordnance disposal personnel had travelled to Wodonga to deal with what appeared to be a World War II-era No. 36M hand grenade.
A department spokesperson said any suspicious item found should be considered dangerous and if a member of public should find an item that may be a suspected unexploded ordnance they should not touch or disturb it.
They said local police should be contacted and they would arrange for military experts to dispose of it.
BRB Modular, which is based in Bendigo, is working at the Wodonga South Primary School and AP Delaney is working on a new community centre.
AP Delaney workers have been at the White Box Rise block for 18 months, with BRB staff arriving on Tuesday night.