NEVER MIND Kosovo, Kent is where the real bombs are. This was the message from George Anderson of BACTEC, the explosive ordnance disposal company, to last week's ALGS meeting at the ICE.
In demonstrating the real threat unexploded ordnance poses to UK construction firms, Anderson cited a survey BACTEC carried out on a proposed housing development site at a former airfield in Hawkinge, Kent, where it detected and uncovered six World War II pipemines, a live 250kg bomb and over a thousand Army practice bombs. This on a site declared 'safe' by the Army.
Developments in inner city London are a particular risk, said Anderson, with records showing that within just two years of the start of WWII some areas had faced up to 250 bombs per km 2.Couple this with the fact that 1015% of WWII munitions failed to function - rather than becoming inert or less effective with age bombs actually become more sensitive and less stable - and there is a very real threat that should form part of every risk assessment.
However, it is not just airfields that pose a threat. Anderson also warned that former Ministry of Defence land and munitions manufacturing sites and 'the unexpected'.
The unexpected is certainly what he encountered at a simple building redevelopment at a scrap metal yard in Wales.
BACTEC was called in to locate a number of bombs that had actually been built into the foundations of the structure by costcutting builders who had employed them in place of reinforcing steel.
To counter these risks, Anderson recommends a 'threat assessment' - which provides an interpretation of historical data to assess risk - is carried out on any site where there is cause for concern.
After that the technology is available, via either a non-intrusive or intrusive survey, to locate and identify exactly what type of ordnance an otherwise unsuspecting plant operator may find himself facing.