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.

NEWS ROUNDUP September 2014

Sept2014News

30 September, 2014
Let’s not rely on luck when it comes to unexploded bombs


Last month, a 36kg unexploded bomb was discovered in North Point, left by the Japanese at the end of the second world war. The police used 100 sandbags to effect a controlled explosion. Nevertheless, debris was flung 100 metres and it created a three-metre-deep crater. In February, a 900kg American bomb discovered in Happy Valley was successfully defused by the police.
Hong Kong’s struggle in the second world war involved the use of ordnance – aircraft bombs, artillery, grenades and other types of ammunition – manufactured by the British, Japanese, Americans and Chinese. After the war, one of the first jobs for the British on returning to Hong Kong was to clear the harbour of the 50-odd shipwrecks. Resources were not available for a general clearance of unexploded ordnance (UXO) and the efforts made at that time were less than optimal. Read more about Hong Kong’s WWII-era bomb problem at the South China Morning Post.

26 September, 2014
1,000-pound bomb safely detonated in Quang Tri

Exploded Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams from Peace Trees Viet Nam (PTVN) detonated and removed a 1,000-pound (450kg) bomb in the central Quang Tri Province yesterday.
Pham Thi Hoang Ha of PTVN, a non-government organisation that has been searching for unexploded ordnance in Quang Tri since 1995, said the 1.8-metre-long, 35.6-centimentre-diameter bomb, which was classified as an MK83, is believed to have been left behind after the American war. More here.

25 September, 2014
500-kg bomb exposed on riverbank in northern Vietnam

A 500-kg bomb has emerged from the bank of a river in the northern Vietnamese province of Quang Tri after continuous rains in the area, local authorities reported Wednesday.
While patrolling along the bank of the Se Pon River yesterday, border guards found the unexploded ordnance (UXO) lying on the ground nearby, said the Tam Thanh border gate station in Thanh commune, Huong Hoa District. More at Tuoi Tre News.

19 September, 2014
Finding Unexploded Ordnance on the Reef or On Your Way to Work

Sal was walking in to work today when he noticed an encrusted mortar shell lying by the side of the path. Being obviously more aware of his surroundings than I am in the morning, he pulled up short. “How in the heck did that get there?” was his first thought, followed by, “That should NOT be there.”
He did not touch it or move it. He called Jim, our facilities manager, the police came, followed by an EOD (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) team. When I walked up, there was a 50 meter perimeter already set up. You can read the rest at Science Island (Hawaii).

September 19, 2014
UXO Drone to find UXO in Laos

Ryan Baker says that Laos is, per capita, the most heavily bombed nation in the world. During the Vietnam war the US flew more than half a million bombing missions and delivered more than two million tons of explosive ordnance.
Baker’s solution is to use his company’s drones to search for these UXOs without putting the drone operators in danger. Arch Aerial is running a Kickstarter campaign to get development funding for a proposed Arch Aerial UXO Drone. See more here and at Kickstarter. (Editor’s note: This is so unlikely on so many levels, but is interesting nonetheless)

September 19, 2014
ANAMA completes mine/UXO clearance operations in Gabala radar station

36 anti-tank, 16 antipersonnel mines and one UXO were found during the operations.
Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action (ANAMA) has completed the mine/UXO clearance operations in the territory of Gabala radar station, chief operation manager of ANAMA Samir Poladov told APA. Read more at News.AZ

September 18, 2014
War to Peace – An American 
veteran returns to Vietnam to help make it safer for 
his former enemy

Nearly 40 years on, Chuck Searcy is still fighting the Vietnam War—but now for the other side. It’s a September morning and Searcy, a 69-year-old veteran, is overseeing a team of Vietnamese about to blow up a bomb discovered in a village in the central coastal province of Quang Tri. Because of its proximity to the old DMZ between what was once North and South Vietnam, Quang Tri was subject to relentless bombing by U.S. warships and planes. As a result, the area is infested with unexploded ordnance. You can see the rest at TIME.

September 11, 2014
Suspected unexploded ordnance found near grounded vessel

THE salvage operations to remove the container ship MV Paul Russ from the reef in the Saipan Harbor ran into another roadblock yesterday with the discovery of what appears to be unexploded ordnance.
According to a release issued by Lt. William White of the U.S. Coast Guard, “While conducting dive operations, divers discovered what appears to be unexploded ordnance behind and next to the grounded vessel. All response operations in the vicinity of the vessel have been suspended until the U.S. Navy Explosives Ordnance Division (USN EOD) can assess and safely remove the items.”
More to be read at Marianas Variety.

September 2, 2014
Lao villager’s favorite pastime: detonate unexploded U.S. bombs

While most residents at Vilabouly village in Savannakhet province in Laos are engaged in farming and fishing, Wan’s favorite pastime is defusing bombs left by the Americans during the Indochina war.
Recently Wan defused a 1,000 kilogram U.S. bomb after European experts decided that defusing the unexploded ordnance (UXO) would prove to be too dangerous.
The Shanghai Daily has more of this very curious story.

September 3, 2014
Gwynt y Môr bomb sweep completed

Consultant engineering outfit 6 Alpha Associates has carried out a five-month unexploded ordnance (UXO) project to pave the way for cable installation at RWE’s 576MW Gwynt y Môr wind farm.
The risk management work at the 160-turbine wind farm, in 12–33 metres of water in Liverpool Bay, off the Welsh coast, is final confirmation that the threat to cable installation from UXOs has been reduced to “as low as is reasonably practicable”. More at Recharge News.

June 9, 1964: The day the first US bombs fell on Laos

Fifty years ago today, on June 9, 1964, the first American bombs fell on Laos, in what would become the largest bombing campaign in history.

The Unites States had been flying reconnaissance missions across Northern Laos in support of Royalist Lao forces fighting a communist insurgency backed by North Vietnam. On June 8th, anti-aircraft batteries near the Plain of Jars shot down an American reconnaissance plane. On June 9th, eight F-100 fighters dropped bombs on those positions, on the orders of President Lyndon B. Johnson. Those were the first of millions of bombs to be dropped over the next nine years.

There is no day of remembrance in Laos for June 9. It is mentioned only in passing in The United States Air Force In Southeast Asia 1961-1973, published by the Office of Air Force History (page 122). But the legacy of that day will be felt in Laos for decades to come.

Below, an excerpt from Eternal Harvest.

 

A boy digs for ant larvae to use in soup on a hillside overlooking the Plain of Jars.
A boy digs for ant larvae to use in soup on a hillside overlooking the Plain of Jars.

A boy stands on a barren hillside, his body a silhouette against blue sky. He’s poised at an angle, aligned with the slope of the hill. He has a shovel and a basket—his tools—as he stabs the earth, looking for ant eggs to use as fishing bait. He lifts the shovel and drives it into the soil. The boy knows about UXO. He knows the ground could explode beneath him. He knows this land is contaminated with bombs that were dropped before he was born. But still, he pumps his shovel.

We meet this boy while hiking with our guide, Manophet, between sites along the Plain of Jars. The young boy keeps flinging dirt. Manophet goes to him and demonstrates a safer way to dig, slowly and softly. He instructs the boy to stop if he hits something hard.

But the boy shrugs off the advice. “I’ve done it many times,” he says. And he goes on digging.

We continue on. Manophet looks weary. He talks of the years he spent working for MAG, looking for UXO. He’s lost friends and neighbors to accidents. He has seen human bodies torn to shreds. Digging for any reason exacerbates the risk of an accident, yet people do it. It’s not because they don’t understand the dangers. It’s because the dangers never go away.

Bombs are a natural part of life in much of Laos, and risk has become routine. Fifty years after the first bombs fell, many Laotians realize they may always have to live on contaminated land. When a hazard is so pervasive for so long, its presence enters the subconscious. It’s impossible to live for decades in active, constant fear. “In daily life, you just have to go on,” says a Xieng Khouang man named Phou Vieng who lost a leg and an arm while digging in the floor of his house. Of course he knew the risks, he says. “Some days we just forgot it could happen.”

People adapt—they must. And people take chances—sometimes by choice, sometimes necessity. There are prospects in the ground. All across Laos, locals turn bits and bobs of old U.S. bombs into useful everyday tools: pails and lanterns, barns and huts, ashtrays and homes. Bomb canisters are stacked into fences and formed into feed troughs. Bomb scrap is melted down and shaped into bowls and spoons. Hunks of high-grade steel are molded into knives and machetes. Lightweight aluminum tubes that once held dozens of bombies now form the legs of sturdy ladders. Defused bomblets serve as lamps, and buckets bear labels naming the precise U.S. armory location and date on which they began life as flare canisters. On some rivers, fishermen float in boats made from the fuel tanks dropped by American pilots. And around many rural homes, vegetables grow in bomb casings.

A woman waters her herb garden, planted in a cluster bomb casing and raised on stilts in Boualapha town, Khammouane Province.
A woman waters her herb garden, planted in a cluster bomb casing and raised on stilts in Boualapha town, Khammouane Province.

We meet a woman on the roadside in Khammouane province as she waters a thick clump of scallions growing in a bomb canister propped up on a couple of old, dead tree trunks. “Oh, this came from the airplane,” she says. “My parents had this a long time.” It works much better than wood. “This is the best planter.”

One small Xieng Khouang community called Ban Naphia, near the Plain of Jars, has made an industry out of scrap. Every day, locals forge hundreds of spoons from the detritus of war. Earthen ovens sit behind many of the homes. Villagers fire them hot and strong, powerful enough to turn an aluminum section of flare canister—with U.S. label still attached—into a dribble of shimmering liquid. It is poured into spoon-shaped molds encased in wood. The liquid cools, and in just a few minutes, a spoon emerges.

Spoons
A young woman makes spoons from aluminum war scrap in a shop behind her home in Ban Naphia, Xieng Khouang Province.

Ban Naphia produces about 150,000 spoons each year, using aluminum from flares, fuses, bomb fins, and fighter jet parts. It is an inherently risky enterprise, and MAG is working with villagers to make their jobs safer. According to MAG documents, “Several people from Ban Naphia have been injured by UXO over recent years.”

Still, the drive to dig is often stronger than the will to resist potential income. In the city, Laotians earn on average a few dollars a day. In the countryside, incomes lag far behind. By trading in scrap, farmers can reap a different type of harvest. The price goes up and down, and it varies depending on location, quality of metal, and a person’s position in the scrap trade. Many villagers quote a price near seven cents a pound—plenty good enough for them to hit the fields with shovels, spades, or detectors….

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.