NEWS ROUNDUP April 2015

2015 April

April 30, 2015
The Greatest Danger in the World: America’s Vietnam War is Not Over

Here is the start of a long read on what life is like for many in the border region between central Vietnam and Laos. The killing continues:
We visited a number of the victims of unexploded ordnance and toxic herbicides, which brings home the human dimensions of suffering, misery and death that are the inevitable legacy of war. The primary causes of exploding war-era ordnance today are farmers working in their fields and scrap metal collectors. Scrap metal can earn a villager as much as $75 a year–a meaningful sum of money to the impoverished and one of the only sources of income available to them. Nguyen Xuan Thiet in Quang Tri Province made part of his annual income to support his family by collecting and selling scrap metal. More…

April 29, 2015
Sudan: Detonating UXO Kills Herder in Darfur’s East Jebel Marra

East Jebel Marra — A herder in East Jebel Marra, North Darfur, was killed on Tuesday when a piece of unexploded ordnance (UXO) detonated.
“Abdelhalim Omar Adam (21) was herding his camels in the area of Turbo, south of Dubo El Omda, when a war remnant exploded. He died instantly, together with two of his camels,” a witness told Radio Dabanga. The rest of this short story is at AllAfrica.com.

April 24, 2015
World War II bomb found at college detonated by military disposal unit in New Jersey

A World War II era bomb, found during a building project at Middlesex County College, was successfully detonated Thursday night by a military disposal team at Joint Base McGuire-Dix Lakehurst.
The discovery prompted college officials to order the evacuation of construction workers. However, classrooms and other campus facilities further from the scene were not included in the order. Read more from the Jersey Shore here.

April 24, 2015
Free school site has ‘credible’ explosives threat in UK

A free school says it is expecting to move “in the coming autumn” to a permanent site by an airport runway – despite an asbestos issue and a credible threat from unexploded Second World War mines.
But a study seen by Schools Week shows that the eight-acre site was part of former RAF Hurn from 1941. The airport was a bomb target during the war, with pipemines containing explosives laid on the airfield as a deterrent to German troops. Read more about this explosive learning environment at Schools Week UK.

April 16, 2015
Vietnam War shells found in Quang Tri farm

An ordnance clearance team in Quang Tri Province in central Vietnam on Wednesday collected five mortar and artillery shells left from the Vietnam War at a local farm.
The team of Peace Trees Vietnam, the first foreign organization signing up for removing unexploded ordnance in Vietnam, said the items could have exploded anytime if hit.
They were first found during a search for remains of soldiers killed in the war in the area. More at Thanh Nien News.

April 8, 2015
Ukraine: skirting mines to deliver for children in need

It is something I could not have imagined a year ago, but going to the conflict-affected territories of eastern Ukraine has become a regular part of my job. Recently I returned from one such mission, to Donetsk region. I believe the memories from the road will stay in my mind forever.
We set off for Donetsk on a Sunday morning. Our mission was driving in a convoy of UN armored vehicles. We passed the checkpoints fast, and as we were driving, I was told that we were heading to Debaltseve. When I heard it, the level of adrenaline in my blood rose significantly.
Read mroe about life in Ukraine these days over at UNICEF.

April 7, 2015
Cambodia – Mine, UXO Explosions Casualties Up in 2014

Both the number of accidents and casualties caused by old landmines and other unexploded ordnance (UXO) rose by nearly 40 percent last year, according to the latest government data, though the two figures were still the second lowest on record following years of progress in demining.
According to a year-end report from the government’s Cambodian Mine Action Authority (CMAA), 98 mine and UXO explosions caused 157 casualties in 2014. That included 21 people who died and 38 who had limbs amputated. More about this grim news at The Cambodia Daily.

April 6, 2015
ANAMA disarmed 77 UXOs and 12 mines last month in Azerbaijan

1 886 457 sq m area was inspected and cleared from mines and unexploded ordinances (UXO) in March, 2015.
Press service of the ANAMA told APA that 77 UXOs, 4 antitank and 8 antipersonnel mines were disarmed. A few more numbers from the Azerbaijan Press Agency.

April 4, 2015
Column: The deadly, horrible mess we made still plagues Indochina

April 30, 2015, marks the 40th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War. As we reflect on the legacies of the Vietnam War, two of the most deadly weapons of war left behind – Agent Orange and unexploded ordnance, called UXO – continue to haunt Indochina.
During the war, the U.S. military had used the powerful herbicide and defoliant Agent Orange to spray along the Ho Chi Minh trails in Laos and South Vietnam. Its purpose was to clear away jungle and eliminate Viet Cong hideouts, disrupting the movement of soldiers and food supplies. Years after the war, the people along the trail continue to suffer health maladies and dire consequences, including dioxin poisoning. The Vietnamese government says that dioxin levels remain 100 times higher than the international standards in some of these areas. The Merced Sun has the rest of the column here.

April 2, 2015
Reminder: Unexploded ordnance surveys seminar (UK)

Immediately following Seawork International 2015 in Southampton, The Hydrographic Society UK is to stage a one-day seminar and table-top exhibition at Southampton Solent University’s Conference Centre on Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) Surveys, on Friday 19 June.
For more information and links, click here.

April 1, 2015
It’s about ‘more than mines’ senior UN official says ahead of International Day of Action

As the world marks the tenth anniversary of the passing of the global mine ban treaty and commemorates International Mine Awareness Day, the head of the United Nations’ office dealing with the threat they pose stressed today the importance of looking beyond the effects of just anti-personnel mines.
Agnès Marcaillou, Director of the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS), told reporters in New York the significance of the commemoration had expanded over the years and that now it was “mine awareness week” rather than just “mine awareness day.”
Unfortunately, the article from the UN doesn’t mention that the International Day of Action is April 4. Oh well.

April 1, 2015
Eleven-year-old girl wounded in wartime shell blast

Not an April Fools joke: An 11-year-old girl seriously injured in an explosion believed to be caused by a Vietnam War-time ordnance on Sunday is now in stable condition, doctors said. YMinh said she found a “metal ball” in the field, and when she threw it away the ball went off. More on the girl’s story at Thanh Nien News.

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.