Bags discarded, sand has uses
Hundreds of sandbags are used to keep back floodwaters during the spring floods. What happens to the sandbags when the flood is over?
Sandbags that come in contact with floodwaters cannot be reused because the waters are contaminated with pesticides, sewage and other toxic pollution.
In Fargo, N.D., where the Red River overflowed its banks in 2009 and threatened to do so again in March, used sandbags are trucked to a site on the outskirts of town and emptied into large piles. The sand can be reused for limited purposes such as providing fill for road and building construction, but not for children's sand boxes or other household uses where people would be likely to touch it.
Even before this year's 1.5 million sandbags were dismantled, 70,000 tons of used sand remained in the Fargo piles.
DOC official selects firing squad
How are the members of a firing squad chosen for an execution, like the one that's coming up in Utah?
Ronnie Lee Gardner, 49, was given his choice of how to be executed for murdering a man in 1985 during an escape attempt at a Salt Lake City courthouse. He chose firing squad over lethal injection. The execution date is scheduled June 18, though his attorneys continue to appeal.
Utah is the only state that allows execution by firing squad. Since the death penalty resumed in the United States in 1976, two men in Utah have died by bullet — Gary Gilmore in 1977, whose last words were "Let's do it," and John Albert Taylor in 1996.
Members of the five-person execution team in Utah must by law be certified peace officers in the state. Squad members are selected by the executive director of the Utah Department of Corrections in consultation with the county sheriff from the jurisdiction where the crime occurred.
By law, the identities of those selected to serve on the firing squad are kept secret. The executioners are armed with matched .30-caliber rifles, four of which are loaded with a live round. The fifth is loaded with a blank. The rifles are randomly assigned to the executioners so none knows which rifle carries the blank, or carries the burden of knowing his bullet killed the condemned.
The executioners fire from behind a gunport bricked into the cinder block wall of the execution chamber, a 20- by 24-foot room inside the prison. The room was completed in 1998 and was previously used for an execution by lethal injection.
Prior to the execution, Gardner will be strapped into a specially designed chair, his head covered with a hood and a white target pinned to his chest over his heart. He'll say his last words, and the execution team will commence firing.