NEWS ROUNDUP March 2015

2015 March

march 31, 2015
“Two of my friends are lying there, dead.”


It started as just another day of boys’ play. “I was with my friends at a quarry that is used as a shooting range; it was seven of us. We’ve played there many times before,” said Maksim* somberly, lying in a hospital bed in his native Donetsk city, Ukraine.
“We spotted a cluster bomb that was just lying around. Two of my friends picked it up and started taking photos with it. The rest of us stepped back, because we were scared. Then my friends threw the bomb into a hole in the ground.”
What happened next is vivid in Maksim’s memory, and it will stay with him for the rest of his life.
The rest of the story is told by UNICEF.

March 30, 2015
Boonton woman looking for MIAs, unexploded bombs in Laos


U.S. Army Spc. Laura Gutbrod of Boonton is on a 35-day mission to southern Laos, part of a 20-person team looking for unexploded ordinance and any evidence of MIAs from the Vietnam War.
Her Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) recovery team is going over the same terrain U.S. forces bombed or traversed 50 years ago.
“Even finding one piece of tiny bone means something,” Gutbrod said in a telephone interview with the Daily Record. More on the story (plus wildly inaccurate ideas on mountain heights in Laos) can be read at The Daily Record of Parsippany, NJ.

March 24, 2015
Four Young Boys Injured by UXO

Four primary school boys aged 10 to 13 were injured, two seriously, after playing with unexploded ordnance in Siem Reap, Chi Kraeng district police chief Touch Sakol said yesterday.
The accident occurred on Tuesday, about 150 metres from Pongro primary school, where the boys are students. During a class break, they wandered away from the school perimeter and found the device, which they began to hit with sticks, explained Sakol, adding, “They didn’t know that it was unexploded ordnance.” More on this tragic Cambodian story over at the Phnom Penh Post.

March 23, 2015
UXO Survey Workshop: Call for Abstracts


The Hydrographic Society UK (THS UK) is to organise a one-day seminar and accompanying table-top exhibition focusing on Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) Surveys on 19 June 2015.
Presenters may discuss case studies and genuine UXO survey operations, hazard identification and reduction, equipment and sensor technology, survey methodologies, data processing, modelling, depth of burial algorithms and the special challenges associated with ground-truthing, discrimination, classification and UXO clearance techniques. Have something interesting to say about that? Check out the link at Hydro International.

March 20, 2015
Blown Away

Explosions blasted mud in the air as soldiers conducted detonation of unexploded ordnance (UXO) in Kosovo.
Soldiers with Kosovo Force 19 Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams, Kosovo Security Force (KSF) Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams, and a Kosovo Police (KP) Improvised Explosive Device (IED) defeat teams, participate in the disposal of more than 200 pounds of recovered explosive hazards at the Kosovo Police demolition range in Mt. Golesh, Kosovo, March 18. Read more about the US Military doing clearance work in places other than Laos over at DVIDS.

March 19, 2015
Job Opening: UXO Technician II Ft. Irwin, CA

We don’t usually get to make job posts, but there is an opening in California for a bomb clearance expert. Have a gander.

March 17, 2015
Mines Action Canada Welcomes Canada’s Ratification of Cluster Bomb Ban Despite Lingering Concerns about Legislation

Canada has finally ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions and totally banned these inhumane weapons. After signing the Convention on Cluster Munitions in December 2008, Canada ratified the Convention today and will be fully bound by the provisions of the Convention on September 1, 2015. As a full state party, Canada will join 89 other states in a total ban on cluster munitions due to the unacceptable humanitarian harm they cause. The Convention bans the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions as well as assistance with any of those acts.
Read more here about the debated clause that allows Canada to still fight alongside cluster-munition-using countries like the USA.

March 16, 2015
Laser-imaging drone to hunt out unexploded bombs in war-torn nations

We first noted this company and its claims a few months back, but they have since made a new pitch, this time at SXSW. There are so many things that make this unlikely to work in a place like Laos (where they say they will test it), but, as my Oma would say, “If they say it and it’s true, I guess you can believe it.” Check out laser drones here.

March 10, 2015
ANAMA neutralizes 195 UXOs and mines in February

179 UXOs, 3 anti-tank mines and 12 anti-personnel mines were detected and neutralized, the Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action (ANAMA) told APA.
487 specialists and 119 assistants, 6 mine clearing vehicles and 36 mine detection dogs were involved in the operations. There is a little bit more over at APA.

March 9, 2015
The Lone Buffalo Cleared Unexploded Bombs And Boosted Needy Kids

Karen and I were happy to get a story about this great guy – and a character in Eternal Harvest – into this story on NPR’s website. Go read about the legacy of Manophet, one of the most remarkable people we have met in our travels about Laos.

March 5, 2015
‘Heroic’ giant rats sniff out landmines in Tanzania

he pre-dawn silence at the foot of the Uluguru mountains is disturbed only by the cries of drowsy birds, the whisper of boots through grass and an intermittent clicking sound that is irresistible to 60 pairs of tiny, almost translucent, ears.
When the sun finally rises over the blue peaks to flood the fields below, it illuminates one of the more unlikely scenes of human-animal cooperation. More on the heroic bomb rats of Tanzania from The Guardian.
Watched over by men and women clutching bananas and the small clickers used to train puppies, dozens of African giant pouched rats shuttle across taped-off alleyways trying to catch the lingering scent of TNT from some of the 1,500 deactivated landmines that have been sown in the red earth.

March 4, 2015
2,723 mines, UXOs neutralized last year in Azerbaijan’s war territories, liberated lands

In 2014, Azerbaijan cleared of landmines a total area of 334 265 77 square meters in the districts of Fuzuli, Aghjabedi, Terter, Khojavand, Aghdam, Tovuz, Gedebey, Goranboy, Gazakh, Goygol and Aghstafa in operations carried out to clear off and neutralize unexploded ordinances (UXO) in the country’s war territories and areas liberated from invasion, the Azerbaijani government’s 2014 annual report said.
You can read a little bit more and find links at APA.

March 5, 2015
After Decades after war, Vietnam and the US battle a legacy of bombs

NOTE – A third story on the US giving aid for UXO removal in Vietnam, this time by Reuters.
Red skull-and-crossbones markers dot the horizon in a barren patch of land in Vietnam where missteps could be fatal.
The signs warn of landmines and bombs, the legacy of a war with the United States that claims casualties even today, four decades after hostilities ceased in 1975.
Unexploded ordnance (UXO) has since killed 42,000 people and wounded 62,000 in Vietnam, according to official data. Three in every 10 casualties were children. The rest of the story is at The Economic Times of India.

March 3, 2015
US to provide $8 million for UXO removal in central Vietnam

NOTE – This is the same topic as in the Xinhua story below, though with rather different figures.
This year the U.S. government will grant US$8 million for clearing unexploded ordnance (UXO) left over in the central Vietnamese province of Quang Tri during the war before 1975, a senior American official has said. Rose Gottemoeller, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security for the U.S. State Department, revealed the grant during her working visit to the province on Monday.
At a meeting with leaders of the provincial administration, the under secretary expressed her delight at the outcomes of the cooperation between the U.S. and Vietnam in general and the province in particular in dealing with war consequences. Click here to read the story as interpreted by Tuoi Tre News in Vietnam.

March 2, 2015
US official visits ’17 parallel north’ province, promising 10 million for UXO

Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security of the United States Rose Gottemoeller on Monday paid a visit to Vietnam’s central Quang Tri province where the “17th parallel north” divided Vietnam into two zones during 1954-1975 war time to observe US-funded efforts to survey and clear unexploded ordnance (UXO) of war.
Quang Tri, some 480 km south of capital Hanoi, has been the first locality in the country implementing a pilot program of international cooperation on humanitarian demining allowed by Vietnamese government, according to state-run radio Voice of Vietnam (VOV). During war time, Quang Tri was among the most-hit localities by bombs. Click here to read more of the story from Xinhua.

March 2, 2015
IN DEPTH: UXO — the hidden danger for offshore wind

The waters off Northern Europe are littered with millions of tonnes of live, unexploded ordnance (UXO) — a legacy of two world wars and decades of government sea-dumping that continued until the 1980s, explains Simon Cooke, chief executive of UXO risk management consultancy 6 Alpha Associates.
“[Dumping ordnance] was not only irresponsible and short-termist, it’s now proving exceptionally expensive to deal with,” says the former British Army bomb disposal officer, who served in Afghanistan and Kosovo. “And after years of storm events and conventional sea movement, these things drift, so the munitions don’t stay where you think they are.” Learn more about the lightly reported issue in the North Sea at Recharge News.

NEWS ROUNDUP January 2015

2015 Jan

January 31, 2015
Laos: Thousands suffering from the deadly aftermath of US bomb campaign


“If I had arrived 15 minutes later at the hospital, I would have died. I underwent 12 blood transfusions in order to survive.” Sitting in the living room of her wooden stilt house, 39-year-old Buan Kham slowly lifted her skirt to expose what remains of her right leg, amputated at the knee. “If I hadn’t gone to the capital, Vientiane, I would have lost both,” she added, caressing the deep scars running along her left thigh.
Less than a year ago Kham, from the rural village of Na Dee, became one of the 20,000 victims of unexploded ordnance (UXO). The weapons are a lethal legacy of the Vietnam war, which turned this poor, landlocked south-east Asia nation of 6 million into the most bombed country per capita in the world.
More on this story at The Guardian and much more here on Eternal Harvest.

January 29, 2015
Afghans live in peril among unexploded Nato bombs that litter countryside


International troops pulling out of Afghanistan have left behind a lethal legacy of unexploded bombs and shells that are killing and maiming people at a rate of more than one a day. The vast majority are children.
Bombs dropped from the air coupled with munitions left behind in makeshift firing ranges in rural Afghanistan have made parts of the countryside perilous for locals who are used to working the land for subsistence and raw materials.
Since 2001, the coalition has dropped about 20,000 tonnes of ammunition over Afghanistan. Experts say about 10% of munitions do not detonate: some malfunction, others land on sandy ground. Foreign soldiers have also used valleys, fields and dry riverbeds as firing ranges and left them peppered with undetonated ammunition. Read more about this deadly legacy at The Guardian, The Russia Times, and News Everyday.

January 28, 2015
Minor Injured by Israeli UXO in Jordan Valley


Head of al-Maleh village council, Aref Daraghmeh, told WAFA correspondence that 15-year-old Ali Ilyan sustained injuries from the shrapnel of a remnant Israeli bomb, necessitating his transfer to hospital for treatment.
According to al-Monitor website, “The Israeli army holds periodic military exercises in the Jordan Valley involving the use of warplanes and live ammunition.”
It said that the number of those killed by Israel’s unexploded ordnance in the Jordan Valley has reached three since the beginning of 2014. More at The International Middle East Media Center.

January 27, 2015
Unexploded military ordnance detonates, critically injures two El Paso women


Unexploded military ordnance detonated Saturday afternoon near Chaparral, critically injuring two El Paso women who were looking for scrap metal, officials said.
The Otero County Sheriff’s Office said the ordnance went off about 1 p.m. near Landing Stripin Road just west of U.S. Highway 54.
The kind of ordnance that exploded was not identified. The rest of the story is at The Alamogordo Daily News and The El Paso Times.

January 27, 2015
UK offshore ‘underplays UXO risk’


Developers, utilities and asset owners are failing to take account of the risks posed by munitions moving from their recorded positions during the operation and maintenance phase of offshore wind projects, warns 6 Alpha Associates.
The consultancy said that prior to installation work, where there is a high risk of encountering unexploded ordnance (UXO), it is common to carry out a specialist geophysical survey to detect it.
However, the seabed is often littered with debris that can be mistaken for UXO and the cost of investigating each and every anomaly is prohibitively expensive. Any anomalies that turn out to be UXO and slip through the net may shift on the seabed due to wave and tidal processes and in some cases human activities, such as fishing. Read more on this hazard to offshore wind farms here at ReNews.

January 24, 2015
From the Front: Kuchis


Kuchis (koo-cheez) are Afghan nomads. Poorer and outcast, they are the bottom of the Afghan barrel. They do some pretty extreme stuff to survive.
When insurgents fire rockets at us (a daily event), some of them land outside our base without exploding. This creates an are of UXO (unexploded ordnance). A UXO area is a wasteland of explosives. We mark it with the bright orange streamers and cordon it off with razor wire.
Because the unexploded rockets are metal and metal has value, there is incentive to harvest the metal as scrap. Enter the Kuchis. If their trip into the UXO area goes well, they return with metal they can sell. If their trip doesn’t go well… You can read the rest of this short dispatch from Afghanistan at the Pryor Daily Times.

January 23, 2015
Army bomb squad disposes of Georgetown cannon ball


U.S. Army bomb squad Soldiers disposed of a cannon ball that was found in a Georgetown townhouse’s chimney here Jan. 21.
Soldiers from the 55th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company responded to the unexploded ordnance discovery at the 1890s townhouse in this historic neighbor in the nation’s capital. Read more here … and a more interesting read on the same topic from The Daily Mail.

January 12, 2015
Bullsbrook bushfire: wind change may push fire to high-fuel load area


A wind change could push a bushfire 40 kilometres north-east of Perth towards a high-fuel load area, authorities warn. The fire has been downgraded to a watch and act and is now contained and under control but authorities are warning the wind change could see it break containment lines.
Mr Gale said firefighters had focussed on area with unexploded ordnance (UXO) on Royal Australian Air Force land on Monday. Read more on fire and UXO in Australia at ABC.net.

January 11, 2015
Uxo Kills Three in East Jebel Marra, Thousands Without Aid in North Darfur


Three people were killed when unexploded ordnance detonated near Mashrou Abu Zeid in East Jebel Marra today. Thousands of newly displaced villagers from East Jebel Marra, who reached Shangil Tobaya and Tabit in Tawila locality, North Darfur, are living in the open, without water, food, or shelter. “At a distance of seven km east of Mashrou Abu Zeid, Abdelmalek Ishag Adam, Musa Yahya Yagoub, and Hawa Eisa were killed, as well as the donkeys they were riding,” a man from the group they were travelling with, told Dabanga.
“Suddenly we heard and felt a loud explosion, and saw them been torn to pieces,” he said. “It must have been a landmine, or an unexploded bomb, they stepped on.” Learn more at AllAfrica.com.

January 9, 2015
ANAMA neutralizes 76 UXOs in December


Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action has detected and neutralized 76 unexploded ordnance (UXO), as well as mines including 17 anti-personnel devices and one anti-tank mine during last December, ANAMA said.
Some 484 deminers and 118 support staff, six mechanical demining machines and 36 dogs involved in demining operations.
So far, the agency cleared over 278 million square meters from the UXOs and mines in the country, as well as detected and neutralized about 690 thousand unexploded mines and ammunition. The rest of the story is at AzerNews.

January 6, 2015
Afghanistan seeks NATO info on unexploded ordnance


Afghanistan has called on US-led foreign forces to hand over more information about their unexploded ordnance (UXO) across the war-torn country. Mohammad Sediq Rashid, the director of the Mine Action Coordination Center for Afghanistan (MACCA), said Tuesday that the information would save lives.
“They used weapons and they know that unexploded ordnance (UXO) will be left behind. This information is life-saving,” said Rashid.
Rashid added that Afghan authorities have raised the issue with NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF); but, so far, there has been no action. He warned that if the US-led forces do not provide Afghans with more required coordinates and locations, lots of people, especially children, will lose their lives. Read more about how wars don’t end when the fighting stops at PressTV.

January 6, 2015
Unexploded munitions a lingering peril as NATO ends Afghan war


The end of NATO’s combat mission in Afghanistan could be a watershed moment in tackling unexploded ordnance littering the country, but experts complain US-led forces need to hand over more information on where it all is.
Decades of conflict since the Soviet invasion in 1979 have left landmines, shells, bombs and rockets scattered across towns, villages and fields, even after extensive clearance efforts that have safely removed millions of items. More on the story over at The Daily Mail.

January 6, 2015
Vietnam War’s deadly legacy continues to haunt Laos


Laos is the most heavily bombed country per capita in history. The United States dropped around two million tonnes of bombs on the country from 600,000 bombing missions during the Vietnam War more than four decades ago.
But many of these bombs failed to detonate. And these unexploded ordnance continue to kill and maim as many as 100 people per year in Laos. Laos is labelled as the “most heavily bombed country, per capita, in the world” – with more bombs falling on it than Europe had during World War II. And by some estimates, up to 30 per cent of the explosives failed to detonate. More on the story both here at Eternal Harvest and over at ChannelNewsAsia.com.

January 5, 2015
JICA’s Efforts to Remove UXO in Cambodia and Laos


Landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) remain in the ground long after a conflict has come to a close, threatening the lives and wellbeing of people and impeding agricultural and economic development. The Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has provided aid in Cambodia for many years to remove landmines and is now drawing on this experience in developing similar programs in neighboring Laos. JICA has more on their work in SE Asia at their website.

NEWS ROUNDUP July 2014

July2014News

July 31, 2014
Boaters urged to exercise caution


Garrison Petawawa has deployed marker buoys, like this one, to warn boaters of prohibited areas on the Ottawa River (Canada). While beaches have been cleared of unexploded ordnance, officials warn of possible encounters with unexploded munitions not yet recovered.
Ottawa River beaches stretching along the garrison’s eastern border have been cleared, officials are reminding boaters of possible encounters with unexploded munitions. More in the (Ottawa) Daily Observer.

July 31, 2014
Concerns over a ‘ticking time bomb’ in estate

Fears have been raised over a ‘ticking time bomb’ hidden underground on a site proposed for 127 new homes. Residents have been left horrified after it was revealed there is a ‘risk’ of unexploded munitions on a former military site at Killingworth Moor (England).
Campaigners against plans for housing on the site have criticised developers Bellway Homes for continuing with the plans and not informing residents. An unexploded ordnance (UXO) report, produced by consultants as part of Bellway’s first phase for developing homes on the site, says all anomalies should be excavated and investigated. More at the News Guardian.

July 25, 2014
UXO kills one in Darfur’s East Jebel Marra

Sara Yagoub Eisa was killed by a detonating grenade in the area of Mashrou Abu Zeid, East Jebel Marra, on Tuesday afternoon.
One of her relatives told Radio Dabanga that when she was ploughing her farmland with her donkey, she hit a grenade. The bomb detonated, killing Eisa and the donkey instantly. Story from Radio Dabanga.

July 21, 2014
Cambodian Peacekeepers in Mali injured by UXO blast

Two Cambodian United Nations peacekeepers in Mali were injured after their car ran over an anti-personnel landmine on Friday.
Driver Sim Veoun’s leg was broken in the blast, while the other wounded peacekeeper, Chan Saveoun, was slightly injured, according to Ouk Bunthan, deputy director of the mines and explosive war remnants clearance department at the National Centre for Peacekeeping Forces. The Phnom Penh Post has the rest of the story.

July 18, 2014
Vietnamese teens find large cache of cluster bombs, rockets

Two Vietnamese teenagers led technicians to a large cache of unexploded ordnance buried in a coastal forest, a legacy from U.S. military intervention in the country. The boys reported their discovery after hearing the sounds of controlled detonations of old bombs made by technicians with Project Renew, an organization based in Vietnam’s Quang Tri Province. You can read more in Stars and Stripes.

July 18, 2014
Treasure hunter finds WWII ordnance on Tumon Bay (Guam)

Parts of Tumon Bay were evacuated this afternoon after one man’s hunt for treasure uncovered something more.
Thirty feet from the shore of Reef Hotel, a local man and his metal detector uncovered a reminder from the island’s past. “There was a person in the water with a metal detector and they found a five inch US naval projectile that’s armed,” Navy EOD Senior Chief Petty Officer Brian Fitzgerald. Just in time for Guam’s 70th Liberation Day celebrations, Senior Chief Fitzgerald says the projectile dates back to World War II. See more at KUAM News.

July 17, 2014
Congressman Honda Awarded For His Work on Unexploded Ordnance

Congressman Mike Honda (D-CA17) was honored Tuesday night by the not-for-profitorganization Legacies of War for his work in raising awareness about, and securing finds to remove, Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) in Laos. The award was presented at Legacies of War 10th Anniversary Event at the District Architecture Center in Washington, DC. Read more at Congressman Honda’s website.

July 16, 2014
Rocket goes off: Explosion in Pursat hurts eight people

An old rocket seriously injured at least eight people when it exploded in Pursat province yesterday, after a child found the missile and used it as a toy with a relative in his village.
Three women, three men and two children – all related – are being treated at the provincial hospital after the child took the unexploded ordnance (UXO) to the family’s Stung Thmey village home. More at The Phnom Penh Post.

July 11, 2014
Casualties from UXO accelerate in Cambodia

Casualties from mines and unexploded ordnance are on track to outpace last year’s count, according to new government data.
In the first five months of this year, 89 people were either killed or injured by the deadly remnants of war, Cambodian Mine Action Centre director-general Heng Ratana said yesterday. The centre’s tally for the whole of 2013 is 111. The Phnom Penh Post has more.

July 10, 2014
Vietnam War legacy lives on in unexploded bombs


A demining team carefully removed a pile of rusty explosives – each one still able to kill or maim – from a quiet ploughed field where fierce fighting once raged in the Vietnam War.
Shortly after the lethal mortars and grenade launcher rounds were taken away, an anxious farmer in her 50s marched over to the team during their recent mission.
The farmer, Van Thi Nga, stumbled across the relics while growing vegetables, the main source of income in her village that sits along the war’s former demarcation zone and is strewn with hidden explosives. More at Asian Correspondent.

July 8, 2014
When the idea of a bomb-free Laos became possible: An interview with Channapha Khamvongsa

It started with hand drawings from survivors. Black bombies littering the sky. Red markings everywhere. Farmers running across the green fields. These drawings would be the start of what would lead to learning about a lost history and one woman’s passion to advocate what many thought would be the impossible: a bomb-free Laos. Read more about Channapha Khamvongsa at the Twin Cities Daily Planet.

July 8, 2014
ANAMA to complete mine clearance operations along frontline within 3 years

Azerbaijan will complete mine and UXO clearing operations in the areas along frontline within 3 years, Director of Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action (ANAMA) Nazim Ismayilov told journalists, APA reports. You can read a little bit more at APA.
Ismayilov said that the Agency is carrying out operations in the liberated areas, as well as in the training ranges and military bases exploded by the Soviet Army.

July 7, 2014
‘South Kordofan littered with unexploded ordnance’: SPLM-N

The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) has warned for a catastrophe in South Kordofan, as the number of land mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) in the region has increased significantly during the past months of bombing and shelling by the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF).
The SPLM-N governor of the areas under rebel control in South Kordofan, Simon Kalu, stressed in a statement on Saturday that the lives of thousands of civilians are in great danger if international organisations will not intervene and remove the UXO. “During the past few months, the Sudanese Air Force dropped hundreds of bombs on the region. Many of them did not explode.” More at the ever-busy Radio Dabanga.

July 7, 2014 Canada: Beware Of UXO – They’re Out There!

We recently acted for the owner/operator of a scrap yard, who decided to shut down its business after more than 50 years in operation and sell their property to a developer. As would be expected, the purchase agreement required the vendor to remove the scrap metal stored on the site prior to closing. On the day before closing, while the crane operator was picking up the remaining scrap at the far corner of the property and dumping it in a truck to be hauled away, he came upon what appeared to be a large cache of shells and other munitions. Read the rest of this UXO story from Canada at Mondaq.

July 2, 2014 Fungi farming brings safe money to bomb-addled Quang Tri

Ever since the war, Quang Tri Province’s poor have made a dangerous living selling the unexploded remains of the US’s mammoth bombing campaign, but a new program gives them a safer option – planting fungi. “Growing mushrooms suits the disabled victims of bombs – those with disabilities and poor health,” said Do Thien Dang who lost his legs in an accident caused by unexploded ordnance (UXO). See the rest of the story at Thanh Nien News.

NEWS ROUNDUP May 2014

May2014News

May 28, 2014
Vietnam eager to spur wide-ranging cooperation with US on UXO and other issues

(Among other things,) In addition, Dung asked the US to increase cooperation and provide more support for Vietnam to help it deal with post-war consequences of mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) as well as Agent Orange (AO), adding that Vietnam is ready to cooperate with the US in ecological environment protection. Read the full diplomatic story at Vietnam Net.

May 26, 2014
One Dead, 5 Hurt in Kompong Thom, Cambodia, UXO Blast

An elderly woman was killed and five others injured by an old B-40 rocket that exploded in Kompong Thom province on Friday when one of the victims attempted to dismantle it for scrap metal, according to local officials.
Sim Tam, 78, who was sitting near the rocket when it exploded, was hit with shrapnel from the device and died from her wounds on the way to the local hospital, said Brigadier General Hang Thol, provincial military police commander. Read more about Cambodia’s UXO problem at The Cambodia Daily and The Phnom Penh Post.

May 26, 2014
For Vietnam, leftover American bombs mean the war has never ended

Nguyen Van Thi is a farmer, not a soldier, but with his missing limbs and severe burn scars, he epitomizes the brutal and ongoing aftermath of the Vietnam War.
Thi, 45, found a small explosive while tending to his crops back in 1999. Not knowing what it was, he picked up the device, brushed off the dirt and tapped it with his hoe.
It blew off his left hand. GlobalPost has the rest of the story.

May 25, 2014
Civilian Landmine Team Deploys to Serbia and Bosnia & Herzegovina To Support Local Efforts in Landmine-Contaminated Areas Affected by Widespread Flooding

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs’ Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement is deploying the Quick Reaction Force (QRF), a group of civilian explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) experts, to Serbia, as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). The QRF will arrive May 26 and work with local officials of both the Serbian and BiH Mine Action Centers to survey landmine-contaminated areas affected by the recent widespread floods.
Heavy rains in the Balkans have caused widespread flooding that has led to the possible shifting and uncovering of some of the 120,000 landmines remaining from the 1992-1995 conflict associated with the break-up of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The flood waters also may have washed away many of the markers delineating the minefields. Read more at the Imperial Valley News.

May 13, 2014
Military destroys over 300 war-era bomblets in central Vietnam

More than 300 unexploded bomblets from a Vietnam War-era cluster bomb were collected and destroyed in the central province of Nghe An, VnExpress reported.
The site quoted Quynh Luu District’s military headquarters as saying that the bomblets were spread out over roughly 100 square meters in Quynh Thang Commune.
Local agencies say that the unexploded 50mm bomblets came from a cluster bomb that the US military dropped during the Vietnam War. From Thanh Nien News.

May 12, 2014
Disabled ambassador works to inspire UXO victims in Vietnam

A farmer in central Vietnam who lost his hand in a bomb explosion almost four decades ago is now an international ambassador working to raise awareness of the consequences of explosive remnants.
Pham Quy Thi, 59, is informally called the ‘one handed ambassador’ and has travelled to 30 nations around the world to give lectures and raise awareness in communities of the consequences of explosives left from the U.S. war in Vietnam. Get the rest at Tuoi Tre News.

May 6, 2014
Azerbaijan establishes special group for searching and disarming underwater mines

Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action (ANAMA) will establish a special group for searching and disarming underwater mines and unexploded ordinances (UXO), chief operation expert of ANAMA Adil Aslanov told APA.
Aslanov said that mines and UXOs are regularly found in water basins, lakes and canals in Azerbaijan. Read more at APA.

May 6, 2014
NGOs continue to push UXO clearance in Quang Tri

Quang Tri Province in Vietnam’s central region is green again thanks to international NGOs who have made a tremendous push toward clearing war-era bombs and mines in recent years.
There’s still a long way to go, however.
Around 400,000 pieces of unexploded ordnance (UXO) are believed to remain buried across 480,000 hectares of land in Quang Tri.
UXO can be found in residential areas, gardens and even under the floors of houses. See more of the story at Thanh Nien News.

May 5, 2014
Due South Brewing Company UXO American Strong Ale

The UXO pays homage to the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Technicians that have served in the US Military and “UXO is a term EOD Techs use meaning unexploded ordnance”. Due South founder and head brewer, Mike Halker, is a former EOD Tech himself and a portion of the proceeds will go to the EOD Warrior Foundation. Drink the full story in at Wine Compass.

May 2, 2014
Shoebury: Unexploded Bombs Close Beach

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council has decided to temporarily close Shoebury East Beach.
The decision, taken in consultation with the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), has been made after a number of recent discoveries of unexploded ordnance (UXO) on and near to East Beach and on neighbouring prohibited MOD foreshore.
Whilst the beach is closed, the MOD, who own the foreshore but license it to the council, are carrying out a survey of the area to assess the exact risk and potential number of UXO’s in that area. More on the news from Great Britain at heart.co.uk

May 1, 2014
Grenade kills two in Darfur’s Jebel Marra

Two girls were killed when a grenade detonated in Jebel Marra on Thursday.
One of the relatives of the girls told Radio Dabanga that Asma Ishag Adam (7) and Najwa Eisa Yahya (6) found the grenade this afternoon in the area of Dirbat.
“They picked it up and started playing with it, upon which the grenade exploded. They were killed instantly.” More at Radio Dabanga.

NEWS ROUNDUP March 2014

March2014News

March 31, 2014
Two Cambodians killed by mines

A 12-year-old boy and a 37-year-old farmer lost their lives over the weekend in UXO explosions in Battambang and Pailin provinces.
Read more at The Phnom Penh Post.

 

March 18, 2014
USAF EOD blows up beach bomb

Airmen from 1st Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance disposal destroyed an unexploded ordnance near the beach, which a jogger discovered at Perdido Key, Fla., March 12, 2014. Get the lowdown from Hurlburt AFB.

March 18, 2014
Cambodian construction workers find US bomb

Clearance workers removed an American MK82 bomb from a construction site in Kandal province. Records show UXO has killed three children in Cambodia so far in 2014. More from the Phnom Penh Post.

March 17, 2014
Vietnam calls for int’l help in clearing wartime UXO

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has asked international sponsors to join Vietnam’s efforts to rid the country of unexploded ordnance (UXO) that still kills and injures thousands of people every year.
The PM was speaking at an international conference organized by Committee 504, a national agency tasked with clearing UXO, in Hanoi on Friday. Read more here.

March 15, 2014
Germany funds UXO clearance in Thua Thien-Hue, Vietnam

The German Ministry of Foreign Affairs will support the central province of Thua Thien-Hue with EUR257,911 (US$359,940) to implement a project to clear unexploded ordnance (UXOs) in A Luoi district.
In 2014, apart from clearing bombs and mines left over from wars in the district, the project will develop information management tools, build a bomb and mine database, and implement the Information Management System for Mine Action in the province. More here.

March 15, 2014
UXOs kill 1,500 Vietnamese every year

Accidents caused by unexploded ordnance (UXOs) left over in Vietnam during the wartime have killed more than 42,000 people and injured about 62,000 others in Vietnam since 1975, according to preliminary statistics.
This means UXO-related accidents kill 1,500 people and injure 2,300 others per year. Read the rest at Tuoi Tre News.

March 13 2014
Work Begins on UXO Clearance at GE Site in UK

Work has commenced as part of unexploded ordnance clearance work, off Charleton Road, Montrose by GE Oil and Gas. The currently undeveloped grassland forms part of a former Royal Air Force Airfield (RAF Montrose).
A specialist clearance contractor, BACTEC, under the oversight of our environmental consultants, MWH, has been working on site from the week commencing Monday, February 24, for an estimated 6 weeks. A little more to read here.

March 12, 2014
One mine explosion occurred in Azerbaijan in February

The news was announced by the Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action (ANAMA) on March 11.
ANAMA said about 912,897 square meters of land were inspected and cleared of landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) in Azerbaijan in February; about 408 UXOs and 11 anti-tank mines were found in the country as a result of the operations. See more at Azernews.

March 11, 2014
UXO Discovered in Ft. Meade, Maryland

Utility workers discovered an Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) in a Fort Meade housing area Tuesday afternoon during scheduled maintenance work.
An UXO team responded to the call and determined the device was a World War II-era mortar training round and that it was inactive. A bit more to read at WUSA.

March 11, 2014
1,912,897 sq m area cleared of mines and unexploded ordinances in Azerbaijan

1,912,897 sq m area was inspected and cleared of mines and unexploded ordinances (UXO) by Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action (ANAMA) in February, 2014, Press service of the Agency told APA.
408 UXOs and 11 antitank mines were found and disarmed. 1 Mine/UXO accident was recorded last month. Read more at APA.

NEWS ROUNDUP February 2014

Feb2014News

2/27/2014
Little help for UXO victims in Laos

Around 25 percent of villages in Laos are contaminated by unexploded ordnance (UXOs), mainly from US bombing missions between 1964 and 1973, according to the Lao National Unexploded Ordnance Programme, and while UXO casualties have fallen sharply in recent years there is little support for UXO victims, whose injuries can drastically affect their families. IRIN has the story.

2/24/2014
RWE Calls in Bomb Squad

Three pieces of unexploded ordnance have been discovered at the construction site of RWE’s 576MW Gwynt y Mor offshore wind farm off Wales.
The developer is preparing to remove the objects, referred to as UXO, from the seabed in Liverpool Bay and construction work is continuing. More at RENews.

2/24/2014
Disarmco Turns to Crowdfunding After Risk-Averse Investors Reject Life-Saving Technology.

With more than 120m landmines stored and deployed in places of conflict and post-conflict around the world and 20,000 victims of landmines every year, a British company is set to tackle the problem head on with its pyrotechnic torch technology after raising funds on equity crowdfunding platform Crowdcube.
Formed in 2012, Disarmco, raised almost £150,000 against its original £120,000 target and attracted 126 investors, turned to crowdfunding after its earlier efforts to attract investors through more traditional means failed. Read more Here.

2/21/2014
Unexploded ordnance found, disposed of in San Pedro Conservation area

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers found two pieces of unexploded ordnance (UXO) during the closure of two sites within the San Pedro National Conservation area. According to a BLM release the areas had been closed since November 2013 for an investigation and study, the sites were formerly used by the U.S. military and located outside Ft. Huachuca. Via TucsonNewsNow.com

2/20/2014
Have You Ever Dropped A Glass On The Floor And It Did Not Break?

Two-and-a-half years after the fall of the Gaddafi regime, Libya continues to suffer from a wide proliferation of explosive items and small arms that threaten civilians.
Amongst those most at risk of coming into contact with landmines, arms and ammunition left behind after fighting are curious children, people wanting to protect themselves, and scrap collectors looking to make a living. Thompson-Reuters has More.

2/13/2014
Landmine, Unexploded Ordnance Deaths Drop by Half in 2013

Deaths from landmines and other unexploded ordnance (UXO) dropped by nearly half from 43 in 2012 to 22 last year, according to the government’s latest casualty figures, the largest drop in recent years.
Total casualties also dropped 40 percent over the same period, from 186 in 2012 to 111 last year, according to the last monthly casualty report for 2013 from the Cambodian Mine Action Authority. Read more at The Cambodia Daily.

2/12/2014
U.S. to Increase UXO Support for Laos

The U.S. government will increase assistance to Laos’ unexploded ordnance (UXO) sector, local press reported Wednesday.
How much of an increase is still being considered but there will be no decrease of support for Laos’ work in surveying, clearing, assisting victims and raising awareness of UXO, U.S. ambassador to Laos Daniel Clune was quoted by state-run daily Vientiane Times as saying. Read more at Chihan.com.

 

2/2/2014
Unexploded munitions a threat in Sudan’s Darfur

From aircraft bombs to cluster munitions and grenades, the Ordnance Disposal Office of the international peacekeeping force in Sudan’s war-torn Darfur has found and destroyed them all. Read the full story from The Times of India here.

 

A Rural Lao Food Diary – Rambling Spoon blog

By Karen J. Coates / Photo by Jerry Redfern
April 7, 2010
Rambling Spoon

©2010 Jerry RedfernLast month, we spent nine days in the field with Jim Harris’s team in rural Phongsali province. We camped at the local dispensary and showered with cold river water, which was piped uphill to the village. The team hired two young women to cook, clean and launder. Our meals were served communally, outside, on an old red table. There weren’t enough benches and chairs, so we stood around baskets of sticky rice and the plat du jour. Each person paid 30,000 kip ($3.50) for three daily meals.

In those nine days, I kept a diary of what we ate. With a few small exceptions (late meals, off trekking), I managed to record almost every meal. I present that diary here because I find it a fascinating telltale of village life, its limitations, its repetitions and routines. Villagers bestowed the team with little gifts of homegrown garlic and backyard tamarind. But after the novelty faded (Sophoon is unaccustomed to foreign guests), I don’t think our cooks quite knew what to do with us. I would have loved more of the roots and vegetables that villagers collect in the forest, as well as the greens they grow in their garden. I offered to pay extra for fresh lettuce, spinach, herbs and other greens–but the residents of Sophoon almost never sell their vegetables, so the concept somewhat confused them. When something new appeared on the table, it likely had come strapped to the back of a dusty moto, driven by itinerant peddlers who make the daily trek from Dien Bien Phu, not far across the border. These sorts of travels make me a more appreciative person. The surprise of a fresh mango or mustard leaves tickled my palate with delight. READ MORE

The Long Haul to Phongsali – Rambling Spoon

By Karen J. Coates / Photo by Jerry Redfern
March 28, 2010
Rambling Spoon

Bus to SophoonIt took four days to travel overland from Chiang Mai to Sophoon, in the northern Lao province of Phongsali, where we camped in the village dispensary with Jim Harris and his team. Eight days in the field, then another four (again) to reach the big city of Luang Prabang. A long haul, indeed. We’re tired, but thrilled to have made such progress in our research.

In the 35 years since the end of war, Jim and thePCL team are the first to clear ordnance from Phongsali–bomblets in rice fields, mortars among cassava trees, even a 750-pounder that a villager found on the hillside where she plans to plant rice. READ MORE.

An essay about this journey is included in This Way More Better: Stories and Photos form Asia’s Back Roads.

The American Man Who Blows Up Bombs in Laos – Rambling Spoon

By Karen J. Coates / Photo by Jerry Redfern
Jan. 24, 2010
Rambling Spoon

©2009 Jerry RedfernIn just a few weeks, a very important man will return to Laos. His name is Jim Harris. He’s a retired school principal from rural Wisconsin. He’s the only American working in the field to clear U.S. bombs from the soil in Laos. That’s Jim in the picture above. He’s standing among his boxes and bins full of Lao artifacts, all part of his living museum (currently homeless, aside from this basement storage room) depicting daily life in Laos. READ MORE

Bombs Away – Milwaukee Magazine

A retired Wisconsin principal now digs for explosives.

By Karen J. Coates / Photo by Jerry Redfern
December 2008
Milwaukee Magazine

Jim HarrisJim Harris crouches on one mud-stained knee, gingerly probing the dirt around a fist-size bomb. A boy found it while digging for insects in the southern Laotian village of Phonephanpek. Harris is calm but concerned. The hour is late, the sun painting everything ochre. “I hate finding ordnance this time of day,” he says.

Harris, a 60-year-old retired elementary school principal from Weston, a small town just south of Wausau, is a tall mustachioed man with a few wisps of gray hair. He towers over most Laotians but retains the gentle, patient manner of a long-time educator. Here in Laos, his lessons center on weaponry and survival.

Between 1964 and 1973, the United States dumped 4 billion pounds of explosives on this sparsely populated Southeast Asian as part of its effort to battle guerillas during the Vietnam War. U.S. forces conducted one raid every eight minutes for nine years. “Bombies,” as the locals here call them, were packed by the hundreds into canisters that opened in midair, scattering the load. Up to 30 percent of those bombs never detonated and Laotian soil remains contaminated today. Villagers are maimed and killed every week while farming their fields, foraging for food or searching for scrap metal. “Digging is dangerous,” Harris says. READ MORE (PDF)