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Napalm back in California without protest

Napalm-filled canisters  
April 20, 1998
Web posted at: 9:04 a.m. EDT (1304 GMT)

In this story:

RIDGECREST, California (CNN) -- A train carrying 12,000 gallons of Vietnam War-era napalm is back in California after a week-long, protest-filled trip that forced its return from the Midwest, where the jellied gasoline was to be recycled. Meantime, Californians who have lived near the napalm for 25 years wondered what all the fuss is about.

The train arrived quietly Sunday at the China Lake Naval Weapons Center, located in the desert 120 miles northwest of Los Angeles, where it will be stored until a recycling company can be found to replace the one that backed out of the deal.

Over two years, the Navy had planned to ship a total of 3.3 million gallons of napalm in aluminum canisters that have sat in an open field at the Fallbrook Naval Weapons Facility, north of San Diego, since 1973.

New Mexico
A train carrying the jellied gasoline en route to California travels through Belen, New Mexico, Saturday  

But Pollution Control Industries of East Chicago, Indiana, citing political and public pressure, abruptly backed out of its contract on April 13, two days after the first shipment left Fallbrook for the Midwest.

The train carrying the napalm, a firebomb ingredient, turned back after reaching Kansas City, Kansas.

Safer than shipping gasoline

Navy Lt. Cmdr. John Smith called China Lake "a good, safe, temporary solution." Most in the neighboring city of Barstow agreed.

"You can see this is not exactly prime real estate. The people living here have other things to worry about," Roy Salgado, a Barstow property manager, told the Orange County Register newspaper.

Residents of Fallbrook not afraid of napalm
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Barstow Fire Chief Dale Milligan said last week that he wasn't worried about the shipment moving through his community.

That also was the view in Fallbrook, a town of 37,000 people perhaps best known for another export -- avocados.

As Fallbrook celebrated its avocado festival on Sunday, residents told CNN they don't understand why other parts of the country are so scared of napalm shipments, which they consider safer than gasoline.

Correspondent Jim Hill contributed to this report.


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