Call them unexploded munitions or ordnance (UXOs/UXBs, UO), not many of us are well aware of the fact that is that it’s not an ordinary term. Let me give you the bit of idea as to why I am calling these risky. Ordnance are explosive weapons like bombs, bullets, shells, grenades, land mines and naval mines that didn’t explode when they were employed and pose a risk of detonation till date.
Unexploded ordnance from far back to the American Civil War pose a hazard worldwide in many areas where sometimes at unexpected sites. The major issue with these unexploded ordnance is that over the years the detonator and main charge deteriorate which makes them all the more sensitive to disturbance resulting into hazards.
The recent pasts have witnessed innumerable scenarios where civilians tampering with unexploded ordnance have faced hazardous effects with fatal results. Unknowingly how hazardous these can be, these were handled without extra care and the result was the explosion killing or severely injuring them.
A few years ago in London a 2,000-pound unexploded bomb was unearthed. Its not just one incident but lot many such incidents are reported. Such finds are common in places like London.
During World War II, London was pummeled with 19,000 tons of bombs and vintage ordnance are still found every now and then. In the year 2010, three bomb-disposal experts were killed while digging up a 65-year-old 1,000-pounder in Germany. Every year ,ore than 8.000 shells, bombs and mortars are found in the UK alone.
It is suggested by the team of expert members that these unexploded ordnance involve high risk and are not at all safe so these should not be touched or handled by unqualified persons. Also, it is suggested that the finding of such unexploded ordnance should be reported to the local police so that Bomb disposal or Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) professionals can handle it with care ensuring minimal or no risk.
Listed below are the ways of finding WWII-era unexploded munitions.
Research of targets is one important way of finding the unexploded munitions. More than one-tenth of the bombs dropped on the UK during the time of war didn’t detonate. The best part was that the paper trail of the bombs that didn’t explode made it easier for Zetica to locate them which pores over the vintage air-raid info and aerial photos in libraries and record offices to identify high-risk zones. The probability of finding these ordnance is high in old industrial areas and Luftwaffe flight paths. So researching the targets beforehand can help locate these ordnances so that the risk of unknowingly handling the same without care that may cause hazardous effects can be reduced.
Well, researching and getting the knowhow of the sites where bombs may be located makes you win half of the battle but then how deeply these are buried is one important aspect. Zetica has designed software that calculates how far the most common bombs say of 110 to 2,200 pounds can travel through various types of soil and rock at terminal velocity to let you get the idea of the depth of the same.
Scanning of the scene
In todays technologically advanced era, there are many smart equipments that can help cut down the risk of unexploded ordnances exploding. A surface-based magnetometer helps detect ferrous objects. Also, an electromagnetic survey can be done to find ordnance or fuse components that might contain nonferrous alloys or brass. Besides this, special 3-D-imaging software can help visualize the size and shape of these ordnances.
While the above mentioned ‘surface-scanning methods’ can help detect the explosives down to only five feet, there are chances of these ordnances being more than 65 feet deep. What can be done in such cases is deploying a truck-mounted hydraulic system that which sends down a magnetometer housed inside a toughened alloy probe thereby helping the Zetica detect these unexploded ordnances much beneath the surface.
Finally: Digging, defusing, disposing
After the Zetica dig up unexploded ordnance the police and military personnel are called in to defuse and dispose of the munitions. In some cases, the bombs are left untouched and thankfully till date they haven’t exploded. Digging, defusing and finally disposing the unexploded ordnances cut down the risk of explosion to a great extent.
Writing about these unexploded munitions or ordnance was quite interesting for me. I am certain that it was successfully able to generate interest in you all too. Do you share the same thought? How did you find reading about these and would you want to read more stuff on such topics? Share your views with us!