U.S. bomb-disposal experts Friday began removing 115 World War II-era mustard-gas shells for incineration after the Solomon Islands demanded they be shipped out.

The shells, left in the Solomon Islands by U.S. troops during the war, will be shipped to America's controversial chemical-weapons destruction plant at Johnston Atoll, about 500 miles southwest of Hawaii.The shells were discovered in 1987, and some were exploded by a munitions disposal team unaware that they contained the gas.

It will take 10 days to do the delicate job of moving the already-rusting shells from Roussell Island, in the central province of the Solomon Islands, to Johnston Atoll.

Police on the island said several people had been moved from their villages near the dump site for fear of any possible accident.

The Solomon Islands is a former British protectorate off Papua New Guinea.