Recent discovery of Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) by 1st Line Defence on a commercial site in Scotland highlights the importance of undertaking a Detailed UXO Risk Assessment, and the value of using local knowledge – and not just official records.
A seemingly innocuous site at face value was in fact found to have a very interesting history by the Research Team at 1st Line Defence as we embarked on gathering historical data for our client.
Although not related at all to the Ministry of Defence today, evidence showed that our client’s site had been requisitioned and used by the military as far back as WWI. It was referenced as being utilised as a hand grenade practice range, although as with many WWI training sites – very little official documentation could be found regarding its daily use.
We discovered that the site was again commandeered by the War Ministry in 1942. Some of the buildings were used for administration purposes, whilst the surrounding open land was used for ’operational practice‘ – a type of assault course for physical training.
However, anecdotal and oral accounts from ex-servicemen suggested a more clandestine use involving weapons training. Again, no official records could be located of such exercises.
Due to this interesting history, and the fact that the area had never been subsequently developed, we noted the potential risk for UXO contamination to have occurred – namely from grenades and possibly other items of Land Service Ammunition (LSA) dating back to WWI.
The ground works proposed on the site were shallow, and the area was relatively clean and free from significant extraneous ferrous contamination, and a Non-Intrusive UXO Survey was recommended to our client.
The data from the survey was interpreted by our in-house geophysicists, and a number of buried anomalies were identified and listed for further target investigation. During the survey and investigation phase our team recovered several WWI and some possible WWII-era grenades, most likely items which have been discarded, lost or not removed after use by the military – which over the years had become buried and hidden from sight.
Police were called to the site followed by a unit from a Royal Navy bomb disposal team, who were dispatched to remove and destroy the unexploded grenades.
In a statement, Police Scotland said: “After a number of unexploded military ordnance devices were discovered, the Explosives Ordnance Division (EOD) of the Royal Navy will safely remove the items and carry out a controlled explosion at a safe location.”
The statement added there was no wider risk to the public and the site has now been handed back over to the client for ground works to continue safely.
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