Locating Unexploded Ordnances

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Evan Mowbray

Unexploded ordnances, also known as UXO, are potentially dangerous features long forgotten underground, underwater, and within structures. Unexploded ordnances consist of explosive weapons, such as mines, bombs, grenades, shells, munitions and other explosives that have the potential to detonate. Unexploded ordnances exist long after wars have ended. For example, unexploded artillery shells dating back to the Civil War have been discovered over the years, almost 200 years after the war took place. These weapons present the risk of injury or death if handled improperly. It’s estimated that over 15,000 people are killed by unexploded ordnances every year around the world. Another risk involved is environmental damage, where the chemical makeup of weapons can contaminate water and soil. Since explosive weapons can involve toxic chemicals, some explosives present a serious health risk even if left undisturbed, leading to potentially years of cleanup and environmental restoration. While the United States has not seen extensive bombing from outside threats, unexploded ordnances can still present a serious risk on military facilities and bases in areas where bombing runs and tests occurred many years prior. Some of these sites end up being used for non-military, civilian development after being decommissioned for military use. They’ve been found in unexpected places, from the middle of the woods to construction sites in Orlando. It’s estimated that the overall range of unexploded ordnances within the United States adds up to around ten million acres of cleanup for over 1,400 different sites. According to the US Army Corps of Engineers, it’s estimated to cost close to $1,000 to demolish an individual unexploded ordnance. Unexploded ordnance removal may involve carefully digging hundreds of holes to locate a single unexploded ordnance. Risk assessment is an important thing to keep in mind when it comes to any project, especially when it comes to understanding the biggest safety risks involved with potential explosives. With all of this in mind, how do you deal with them?

Trinity Subsurface technician Randy using a ground penetrating radar roller in an open field.

Our team at Trinity Subsurface, on top of utility locating and marking, can aid in locating unexploded ordnances on your sites. Ground penetrating radar can locate a number of features underground, including traditional utility lines, tanks, graves, and voids. Utilizing the extensive capabilities of ground penetrating radar, our team is also able to locate shells, mines, and other explosives located under the surface of your big projects. Like with any project, in order to understand what’s underneath the surface, we need some level of background information: what is known about the site where we’re looking for? What is expected to be found underground based on historical records, existing plans, and word-of-mouth?

Locating unexploded ordnances involves utilizing full polarization ground penetrating radar and ultra-wideband electromagnetic induction. This allows us to confirm the depth and exact location of these dangerous unexploded ordnances without the extensive digging that could cause an explosion if tackled incorrectly. This also allows us to differentiate an unexploded ordnance from a non-explosive structure, determining the level of caution needed in the UXO removal process. This exploration will help protect people from potential harm and reduce the risks of potential damages to property. If you need assistance locating unexploded ordnances, give Trinity Subsurface a call or visit our website to find out more about how to schedule our services.

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