Although the DoD has made a concerted effort to prevent accidents involving military munitions, such accidents do occur. The Army has developed this web site to educate the public about the hazards associated with military munitions, particularly, UXO.
Army-wide analyses of accidents involving military munitions and civilian personnel indicate that failure to respect the explosive hazards associated with munitions, particularly UXO, is the main cause of accidents involving munitions. Remember military munitions were designed to destroy enemy weapons or kill or incapacitate the enemy. Soldiers are only allowed to handle and use military munitions after extensive training. Soldiers that respond to UXO are Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) personnel. The training requirements for these highly trained and specially equipped teams are both stringent and far more extensive because of the increased hazards. DoD only authorizes EOD personnel to respond to requests from local law enforcement personnel for support of a discovery of munitions by the public.
The best way to avoid an incident and being added to this website as an example is to learn and remember the 3Rs (Recognize, Retreat, and Report). Remember, if you discover or think you have discovered a UXO, do not touch or disturb it, but call 911.
Incident 1. In 2004, police in Georgia evacuated several homes and businesses following the explosion of a trash bin that contained UXO. Although, the sanitation workers picking up the garbage were unharmed, the explosion destroyed the trash container, shattered the garbage truck window, and threw the truck forward several feet, knocking out a fence. An EOD unit removed four high explosive 20mm rounds that remained in the truck following the explosion. This incident was believed to be related to the arrest of two suspects who were caught wandering on an operational aerial gunnery range.
Incident 2. In 2004, a man brought a bucket of grenades to a local police station in Delaware. The police immediately recognized the danger and evacuated the building. After evacuating the building, the police waited for the police bomb squad and EOD. The man found the grenades in crushed clamshells he had purchased to pave his driveway. An Army investigation determined that this discovery was to be only one of a series of similar discoveries that resulted from discarded military munitions being recovered from the ocean during commercial fishing. The Army immediately took action to educate the public on the three R’s (recognize, retreat, report) for UXO. Although the man recognized that the grenades were of a great enough concern to involve the police, he did not recognize that by picking up and moving the grenades he was placing himself and others in danger.
Incident 3. In 2004, the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel was closed when construction workers identified 12 military munitions at a former scrap yard. One of the items was a 4,000 pound WWII-era bomb. EOD responded to this area that had a long industrial history. Only after an extensive inspection by military experts were these munitions determined to be inert--not to contain explosives--and not to present an explosive hazard.
Incident 4. In 2004, an antique bottle hunter searching a wooded area in Georgia uncovered an unusual glass item. Initially, the glass item was suspected to be an old bottle, or even a flashlight. On further inspection, a UXO was suspected. Once the hunter recognized the hazard, he contacted the local police and a bomb squad responded. The bomb squad called EOD for support after determining the item was a military munitions (UXO). The UXO, a WWII era 40mm anti-aircraft shell, was safely removed and properly disposed of by the EOD team without incident.
Incident 5. The strong winds and heavy rains from the 2004 land fall of Hurricane Jeanne, partially exposed an unexploded 10-foot long Tiny Tim rocket in the driveway a Florida residence. EOD responded and removed the 1940s-era rocket. These rockets were used in training for WWII's D-Day invasion. A few days following discovery of this rocket, a second unexploded rocket was found along the sea wall near where the first rocket was found. In 2004, EOD teams in Florida responded to five explosives and emergency calls after hurricanes.
Incident 6. In Charleston, South Carolina, at the end of 2003, construction workers encountered a civil war-era military munition while digging up a cobblestone driveway. The workers did not identify the munition until the next day, when a Civil War re-enactor recognized it as a Parrott shell. The black-powder filled projectile was about eight inches long and three inches in diameter. The local bomb squad responded and properly disposed on the Parrott shell. Some items are difficult to identify, and not everyone realizes the danger that even old items can present.
Incident 7. One afternoon in 2001, an eight year old was raking leaves in his yard when heard his rake scrape metal. He picked up an unusual item and ran with it to his house. When his brother saw it, he became alarmed. The child dropped the object on the ground, a few feet from a concrete driveway. The family called the local police and the item was identified as a live military munition, a bazooka round. Military experts responded and carefully removed the round to a nearby military installation where it was detonated. This family was fortunate that the boys recognized the potential hazard in time. Later, the family learned that its house was built on land the military once used for a military training area.
Incident 8. In 2000, an incident occurred that involved military munitions removed from an operational range. Although, like most operational ranges, this range had signs warning the public not to enter the area and of hazards potentially present, some youths entered and removed munitions. The munitions removed from the range were taken home and passed between the boys and their friends for several days. After changing hands many times, one of the munitions was dropped and exploded. As a result, a 16 year-old boy was killed and another was left in critical condition. Witnesses reported that, at one time, there were up to 20 children handling the UXO that eventually exploded. The boys were attempting to move the UXO, when it fell and hit a truck bumper and exploded. This UXO exploded even though it had been handled and moved around many homes. The explosion not only killed one boy, and injured another; it also damaged a house and two automobiles. After investigation, three local youths were arrested for trespassing into a restricted area and taking government property--the UXO.
Incident 9. In 2000, a nine year-old boy playing near a former artillery range found a munition (a UXO) and decided to keep it as a souvenir. More than a year and half later while the boy was playing with it in his garage, the munition exploded. As a result, the boy lost his left hand and forearm. Failure to recognize the explosive hazard posed by munitions irreversibly changed this boy's life.
Incident 10. In 1995, a family that was on vacation near an active military base found seven unidentified items and took them home. These items turned out to be UXO. Children were playing with these UXO when two of the UXO exploded. As a result, five children were admitted to the hospital, with two in serious condition and one with head injuries. An Explosives Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Team responded from a local military base and destroyed the UXO. Unfortunately, the family did not recognize the items as munitions and the result was serious injury. This incident demonstrates one reason the Army tells its soldiers, "if you did not put it there, do not pick it up."
Incident 11. In 1989, a teenager was seriously injured on an operational range's impact area. The teenager and his older brother had wandered onto an artillery impact range when he apparently stepped on a munition that exploded. The teenager suffered permanent brain damage and lost 80 percent of the use of one eye. It is important to recognize the potential dangers associated with operational ranges, and to stay off of such ranges.
Incident 12. Recently, youngsters recognized that they had encountered a UXO and some discarded military equipment in a wooded area near their home. The children carefully retreated and ran home to tell their mother. Their mother reported the items to the police and an EOD team went to the location to investigate. It turns out the UXO was very dangerous and had to be destroyed. The children were very smart to follow the 3Rs (recognize, retreat, report) because had they disturbed the UXO, they would have been injured. The community should be grateful to the children for following the 3Rs because their action allowed EOD to remove the danger.
Full Story 1
CONCORD, MA – In 2001, using its authority under the Defense Environmental Restoration Program (DERP) to cleanup contaminated soils at the Formerly Used Defense Site (FUDS), now known as Camp Goodnews, the Corps of Engineers' New England District, discovered two rounds of unexploded ordnance (one 60mm round and one 81mm round). To ensure the public's health and safety, the Corps took action by destroying the unexploded ordnance in place on Aug. 16.
The Corps is taking immediate action to secure the site from public entry. Additional investigations will be undertaken to determine the extent and degree of site contamination to include any unexploded ordnance. Any unexploded ordnance discovered during the Corps' investigations will be removed.
Camp Goodnews is a private property that abuts a portion of the easterly boundary of the Massachusetts Military Reservation. The Formerly Used Defense Site (FUDS) parcel consists of approximately 55 acres of the 183-acre camp. A portion of the 55-acre parcel is known as the Former H Range South. Former H Range was active during World War II and mortar-firing positions were located on the property of Camp Goodnews. Former H North is located on the Massachusetts Military Reservation (MMR). Former H North and Former H South historically formed one large training area.
The training area included mortar firing positions, bunkers and other training facilities.
On Monday, Aug. 13, 2001, Weston mobilized onto Camp Goodnews to begin removing lead-contaminated soil from a former small arms range. Weston began to clear the brush from the access road and the contaminated soil area as an initial task. As part of the brush clearing operation the area was scanned for potential unexploded ordnance for safety. The unexploded ordnance scan identified approximately 85 anomalies (buried metal). Each of these anomalies was investigated by excavation. Two unexploded ordnance were uncovered and were destroyed in place on Aug. 16. Three anomalies were unexploded fragments and 80 anomalies were metallic debris (nails, wire, etc.)
In 1999, the Corps determined that this site was formerly used by DoD and therefore eligible for the Defense Environmental Restoration Program.
An investigation will follow to locate other anomalies within the Former H Range firing fan. Other investigations at the Camp Goodnews FUDS parcel include removal of approximately 600 cubic yards of lead and dieldrin contaminated soil, soil sampling at military features such as bunkers and ground water sampling for petroleum hydrocarbons. These projects are scheduled for August through November 2001. The anomaly investigation has not been scheduled.
The Department of Defense is committed to correcting environmental damage caused by its activities The Defense Environmental Restoration Program (DERP) is the vehicle to accomplish this. The cleanup of Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS) is a part of this program. FUDS are those properties that the Department of Defense once owned or used, but no longer controls. These properties can range from privately-owned farms to national parks. The FUDS program includes former Army, Navy, Air Force, or other defense agencies' properties.
SOURCE: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers New England District
Copyright 2001 PRNewswire
Full Story 2
NEEDLES, CA - For years, school kids in Needles have been taught the 3 R's,": Reading - 'Riting - 'Rithmetic, but this past week they learned some new ones: Recognize - Retreat - Report.
It's all part of an educational campaign coordinated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to inform the community about dangers in the nearby desert.
The former military Camp Ibis is about 20 miles northwest of Needles, off U.S. Highway 95. It was one of 10 major camps in the California and Arizona deserts set up by Gen. George S. Patton in 1942 to train troops and test equipment, ammunition and weapons.
Armored tank divisions trained there from 1942-44. As was often the case, they left behind some unexploded munitions.
The Department of Defense designated the Army Corps of Engineers to clean up thousands of sites used by the military after two 8-year-old boys were killed in their San Diego neighborhood in 1983.
Their cul-de-sac stood on the former Camp Elliott. The boys found a 37-millimeter shell, which exploded while they played with it.
A "FUDS" program was established. FUDS stands for Formerly Used Defense Sites. There are 10,000 of them across the country, according to Tawny Tran, project manager for the Army Corps of Engineers' Los Angeles district.
Of those 10,000, there are 1,300 in Tran's territory, which includes Southern California, Southern Nevada and all of Arizona. About 1,000 of Tran's sites involve munitions. The remainder pose a threat due to toxic or radioactive materials, Tran said.
Sites receiving a higher priority are those close to where humans live and the Camp Ibis site qualifies, due to its proximity to Needles and a major highway.
The corps started gearing up in 1996, identifying and studying sites, according to Tran.
They had a community meeting in Needles three years ago "... where we announced to the public that we're out here to do this investigation," Tran said.
When combing over the site, the corps found one highly explosive projectile at Camp Ibis. They also found 93 "practice," or fake, land mines, five of which had to be detonated, according to Tran.
The practice mines would send up "... a white puff of smoke and the individuals (training) in the tank would know they were out of commission (in the war games) because they just ran over a mine," according to Mike Short, Director of Technology for MEC - Munitions and Explosives of Concern.
The fake mines were set off by a "spotting charge" that simulated a real bomb when run over by a truck or tank.
The threat they pose to humans varies, according to Short. "Walking on them, none at all because it takes a tremendous amount of weight to set one of these off," Short said.
"But if they were to remove the fuse from it - the spotting charge - then it could present some hazard," according to Short.
What kind of hazard? "Taking off fingers," Short said.
Short, employed by private contractor Parsons Infrastructure and Technology Group, Inc., of Pasadena, Calif., erected 34 signs on the 13,000-acre site of Camp Ibis.
Short and his team use detective devices to make sure they don't hit a mine when digging holes for the signposts.
The signs warn of the danger and give two phone numbers to call in the event that someone finds one of the munitions.
The easiest thing to do is to call 911, Tran said.
While posting signs in the desert, the corps simultaneously fanned out across Needles, staging a community meeting and then holding six meetings at area schools and Head Start on Wednesday and Thursday.
Those meetings were coordinated by Project Manager Joni Jorgensen-Risk and lead by Community Coordinator Carlton Holte, both employed by private contractor Innovative Technical Solutions, Inc., of Sacramento.
They brought with them a glass-encased display of ordnance found at Camp Ibis, as well as 60-year-old empty soft drink bottles discarded by the trainees.
A video was shown, followed by a question-and-answer period.
The lesson was simple. Those in the audience were taught the 3 previously-referenced R's:
Recognize - be able to identify ordnance.
Retreat - don't touch it and get away from it.
Report - try to mark the spot where it was found and then report it to authorities.
When speaking to 3- to 5-year-old youngsters at Needles Head Start, Holte altered his message a little, recognizing his audience was not yet able to read.
He told them not to touch it, remember where they found it and call 911.
Word spread quickly in Needles about the presentations, with stories getting back to Jorgensen-Risk and Holte about kids coming home from school, excitedly telling their families about the presentation.
Holte found it "... so good to hear."
Jorgensen-Risk and Holte also distributed posters to Needles businesses, as well as public buildings like the post office.
Some 2,500 inserts regarding Camp Ibis were mailed out with utility bills, and there will be thousands of newspaper inserts, according to Jorgensen-Risk.
The Needles library has been designated as the major source of information about Camp Ibis, with "historical documents" about what was used at the site in the early 1940s, Tran said.
SOURCE: Mohave Valley Daily News (AZ)
AUTHOR: Neil Young
Additional Links to UXO Stories
RECOGNIZE — when you may have encountered a munition.