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 December 2014

Dec2014News

December 21, 2014
UXO also found on Managaha (Marianas Islands)


AS a precautionary measure, the Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality will be inviting an unexploded ordnance or UXO expert to assist in the Managaha drum cleanup project, BECQ Administrator Frank Rabauliman told Variety in an interview.
Since November, BECQ has been conducting a cleanup of buried drums and batteries on the famous tourist spot.
The discovery of mounds and buried drums was first reported by the Division of Fish and Wildlife and the Historical Preservation Office during a survey of the Shearwater bird breeding ground in 2010. More at Marianas Variety.

December 19, 2014
Japan and United States Clear Unexploded Ordnance in Laos


In the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, a large number of bombs dropped during the Indochina Wars still remain unexploded throughout the country, hindering the country’s economic and social development. Against this backdrop, Japan and the United States will contribute to clearing unexploded ordnance (UXO) in Laos and will keep each other informed of their progress as part of the Japan-U.S. cooperation for the clearance of landmines and UXO in Southeast Asia.
Specifically, Japan has decided to provide necessary assistance (e.g. support for personnel costs) of up to 705,242 U.S. dollars for the UXO clearance operations underway in Champasack and Saravane provinces in the southern part of Laos. The United States is also providing financial assistance for the UXO clearance operations in southern Laos. There is more to read from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan.

December 18, 2014
Workers hit bombs, bullets while building school in southern Vietnam


Workers in the Mekong Delta province of Bac Lieu have stopped building a primary school after stumbling upon a buried cache of war-era munitions.
Nguyen Van Vinh, head of the Project Management Department of Gia Rai District, said Wednesday that they have asked the province’s military to clear the area before resuming work.
A source from the Bac Lieu Military Command said they have collected a directional mine, numerous rifle bullets, and an 82-mm mortar round.
More to read about leftovers from the US war in SE Asia at Thanh Nien Daily.

December 17, 2014
U.S. Conventional Weapons Destruction Programs Reduce Threats from World War II-era Munitions


For more than 70 years, communities across the islands of the South Pacific have faced hidden hazards from buried and abandoned bombs, mortars, artillery shells, and unexploded ordnance dating back to World War II. Since 2009, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs has invested more than $5.6 million in support of conventional weapons destruction programs in the Pacific Islands.
Old and degrading munitions pose a safety hazard as well as an environmental challenge. U.S. efforts reduce the humanitarian impact of abandoned World War II-era munitions caches across the region by funding survey and clearance operations as well as training missions. More info available from the US Department of State.

December 17, 2014
UXO kills herder in Darfur’s East Jebel Marra


A young shepherd was killed, along with 17 of his sheep, in the area of Mashrou Abu Zeid, East Jebel Marra, in an explosion today.
“Early this (Wednesday) afternoon, we suddenly heard an explosion,” a listener told Radio Dabanga from Mashrou Abu Zeid. “When we arrived at the place, we found Mahjoub Suleiman Saleh (15) ripped to pieces, as well as 17 of his sheep.” Read more at the ever-interesting Radio Dabanga.

December 8, 2014
The European Union will provide up to EUR 60 million in grants to Laos in 2014-2015


The European Union (EU) has announced it has allocated up to EUR 60 million (KIP 60 billion, USD 75 million) to Laos under its bilateral cooperation programme over the period 2014-2015 to improve basic education and food and nutrition security and strengthen good governance as well as the rule of law and human rights.
The EU will also continue to assist Laos with the clearance of Unexploded Ordnance (UXO). Read the details at the EU website.

December 8, 2014
ANAMA demined 3.5 million square meters in November


3,542,127 sq m area was inspected and cleared of mines and unexploded ordinances (UXO) in Azerbaijan in November, 2014.
Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action (ANAMA) told APA that 57 UXOs and an antitank mine were found and disarmed during the operations.
One mine/UXO accident was recorded in November. There’s a bit more to read from the Azeri Press Agency.

December 3, 2014
Unexploded ordnance endangers Jordan Valley residents

On Nov. 23, Ahmed al-Sheikh from the village of Bardala in the occupied Jordan Valley, near the Jordan River, was killed by an exploding mine left behind by the Israeli army following military maneuvers in the region. Sheikh was the head a family of five, his youngest son being only 5 years old.
Mahmoud Saleh Sawaftah (Abu Saed), the head of Bardala’s village council in Area C, told Al-Monitor that Sheikh was a shepherd and died of head and chest wounds when the mine detonated while he was trying to bury it, fearing for the safety of the children and other shepherds in the region.
The Israeli army holds periodic military exercises in the Jordan Valley involving the use of warplanes and live ammunition. Read more at the Al-Monitor.

December 1, 2014
Equipment, funding hamper cluster bomb cleanup efforts in Laos

Shortfalls in equipment and funding are the biggest challenges facing Laos as it struggles to remove the threat of unexploded ordnance (UXO) left from war decades past, state-run media Vientiane Times reported Monday.
The findings were among those released at the National Regulatory Authority for UXO (NRA) plenary meeting held in Vientiane. Read more at Global Post.