Risk Management For Unexploded Ordinance (UXO) In The Marine Environment

Brett Howard, Jana Aker, Mike Reid


World Wars I and II resulted in the production of tremendous amounts of conventional and chemical ordnances. Unfortunately, many of these ordnances (UXO) still exist in an unexploded state on the sea floor, continuously presenting the risk of serious harm to people and the environment. Using existing marine UXO literature, a list of 21 plausible UXO risk events in the marine environment was generated and then categorized into risk levels of low, medium, high and very high. Subsequently the efficacy of a series of risk reduction strategies was examined within the context of these identified risks. This paper reviews the risks and risk management strategies involved with the presence of these unexploded ordnances in the marine environment. It provides suggestions for the introduction of effective risk management plans as well as offers clarification on exactly what the largest risks associated with underwater UXO in a global context.

Full Text:



Advisory Committee on Protection of the Sea (ACOPS). (2003). Coastal Survey of Packaged Chemical and other Hazardous Items. Maritime and Coastguard Agency Research Project No. 488, London.

Alpha Associates. (2011a). Unexploded Ordnance Risk: Considering Unexploded Ordnance Risk on and around the British Isles. Retrieved from http://www.pmss.com/ downloads/Unexploded%20Ordnance%20Risk%203.2.pdf

Alpha Associates. (2011b). Unexploded Ordnance Risk Mitigation – Marine. Retrieved from http://www.6alpha.com/uxo-risk-mitigation-marine

Bassani, C. (2008). SAIC Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) Survey System. Presented at Oceans 2008, in Quebec City, Quebec. 15-18 Sept. 2008. http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/OCEANS.2008.5152124

Bearden, D. (2007). U.S. Disposal of chemical weapons in the ocean: Background and issues for congress. Congressional Research Service. Retrieved from http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RL33432.pdf

Beddington, J. & Kinloch, A. (2005). Munitions dumped at sea: A literature review. Retrieved from http://www.mod.uk/NR/rdonlyres/77CEDBCA-813A-4A6C-8E59-16B9E260E27A/0 /ic_munitions_seabed_rep.pdf

Belden, J., Ownby, D., Lotufo, G. & Lydy, M. (2005). Accumulation of trinitrotoluene (TNT) in aquatic organisms: Part 2 – Bioconcentration in aquatic invertebrates and potential for trophic transfer to channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus). Chemosphere, 58(9), 1161-1168. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2004.09.058

Chandler, G. (2011). Clearing the Way for Winds of Change. Earth Explorer. Issue 1. Retrieved from http://www.earthexplorer.com/2011-08/Clearing_the_way_for_winds_of_ change.asp

Choo, C.W. (n.d.). Advantages of Online Database Services. Retrieved from http://choo.fis.utoronto.ca/fis/courses/lis1325/Structure.Adv.html

Crown. (2010). Dealing with munitions in marine sediments. Retrieved from http://www.ramorauk.com/_webedit/uploaded-files/All%20Files/Dealing-with-munitions-in-marine-sediments-2010.pdf

Cullison, G. & Turlington, C. (2004). Overview – Environmental effects of underwater unexploded ordnance (UXO) & munitions constituents (MC). [Presentation slides]. Retrieved from

Davies, G. (1996). ‘Munitions Dump Explodes into Headlines Again’, News, Marine Pollution Bulletin, 30(3), 250-251. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0025-326X(96)90110-1

Department of National Defense. (2003). Warfare Agent and Disposal Project. Retrieved from http://www.forces.gc.ca/site/news-nouvelles/news-nouvelles-eng.asp?cat=03&id=1039

Department of National Defense. (2010a). UXO Types. Retrieved from http://www.uxocanada .forces.gc.ca/ut-tu/index-eng.asp

Department of National Defense. (2010b). The DND UXO and Legacy Sites Program. Retrieved from http://www.uxocanada.forces.gc.ca/pro/index-eng.asp

Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining. (2006). Developing Mine Action Legislation - A Guide. Retrieved from http://www.gichd.org/publications/languages/ english/developing-mine-action-legislation-a-guide-en

Glasby, T. (1997). Analyzing data from post impact studies using asymmetrical analyses of variance: A case study of epibiota on marinas. Australian Journal of Ecology, 22, 448-459. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1442-9993.1997.tb00696.x

Government of Canada. (2008). List of Underwater Unexploded Explosives Ordnance (UW UXO) Sites that has been complied from historic research projects conducted on the East and West Coast of Canada. National Defense. Retrieved from http://www.uxocanada. forces.gc.ca/ul-eu/luueosc-lssmmee-eng.asp

Green, A., Moore, D. & Farrar, D. (1999). Chronic Toxicity of 2, 4, 6-trinitrotoluene to a Marine Polychaete and an Estuarine Amphipod. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 18(8), 1783-1790. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/etc.5620180826

Haplin, S. & Morrison, M. (2009). Marine UXO (Unexploded Ordnance) identification and avoidance for a shallow water pipeline route. Offshore Technology Conference, Houston, Texas.

Hauslohner, A. (2011). Gaddafi’s Abandoned Arsenals Raise Libya’s Terror Threat. Time: World. Sept. 7. 2011. Retrieved from http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2092333,00.html

HELCOM. (1994). Report on chemical munitions dumped in the Baltic Sea. Report to the 15th Meeting of Helsinki Commission. Danish Environmental Protection Agency.

Kehoe, M. (2002). Military dumpsite off Canada’s Atlantic Coast. Retrieved from http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/English/pet_050A_e_28755.html

Kirby, A. (2004). UK’s undersea “ticking timebombs.” BBC News. London. Retrieved from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/sci/tech/4032629.stm

Kmec, J., Hreha, P., Hlavacek, P., Zelenak, M., Harnicarova, M., Kubena, V., Knapcikova, L., Macej, T., Duspara, M. & Cumin, J. (2010). Disposal of discarded munitions by liquid stream. Technical Gazette, 17, 383-388.

Koschinski, S. & Kock, K. (n.d.).Underwater unexploded ordnance – Methods for a cetacean-friendly removal of explosives as alternatives to blasting. Retrieved from http://www.iwcoffice.org/_documents/sci_com/sc61docs/SC-61-E21.pdf

Lindsay, J. (2010). CG tracks mustard gas that sickened fishermen. Navy Times. Retrieved from http://www.navytimes.com/news/2010/06/ap_military_mustardgas_boat_060810/

Lotufo, G., Farrar, J., Inouye, L., Bridges, T. & Ringelberg, D. (2001). Toxicity of sediment-associated nitroaromatic and cyclonitramine compounds to benthic invertebrates. Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry, 20, 1762–177 http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/etc.5620200820

McGladrey and Pullen. (2011). Establishing a hotline is a cost-effective and successful way to detect fraud. Retrieved from http://mcgladrey.com/Risk-Management/Establishing-a-hotline-is-a-costeffective-and-successful-way-to-detect-fraud

McKee, F.M. (1993). An Explosive Story: The Rise and Fall of the Depth Charge. The Northern Mariner: Journal of the Canadian Nautical Research Society, 3, 46.

Monfils, R., Gilbert, T. & Nawarda, S. (2006). Sunken WWII shipwrecks of the Pacific and East Asia: The need for regional collaboration to address the potential marine pollution threat. Ocean & Coastal Management, 49, 779-788. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2006.06.011

Nipper, M., Carr, R., Biedenbach, J., Hooten, R., Miller, K & Saepoff, S. (2001). Development of marine toxicity data for ordnance compounds. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 41, 308–318. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s002440010253

Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. (1993). Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction. Retrieved from http://www.opcw.org/index.php?eID=dam_frontend_push&docID=6357

Schroeder, D. (n.d.). The history of the sea mine and its continued importance in today’s navy. Retrieved from http://www.history.navy.mil/museums/keyport/The_History_of_the_ Sea_Mine.pdf

Slade, S. (2000). Are sea mines still dangerous? Retrieved from http://www.slate.com/articles/ news_and_politics/explainer/2000/08/are_sea_mines_still_dangerous.html

University of Liverpool. (n.d.). Desk Study and Site Investigation: EOSC316 Engineering Geoscience. Retrieved from http://pcwww.liv.ac.uk/rockdef/lectures/engineering/ 4%20Site%20Investigation.pdf

Welch, A. (2010). Alistair Welch investigates the issue of unexploded devices that remain on the seabed – and how this could affect windfarm development. Retrieved from http://www.6alpha.com/downloads/OW_AT_UXB.pdf

Welch, A. (2010). Risky Business: Offshore Wind Engineering. Autumn 2010. p. 68. Retrieved from http://www.6alpha.com/downloads/OW_AT_UXB.pdf

Westman, H. (2006). Visualizing the invisible: Visualizing historic shipwrecks. Computer Graphics Quarterly, 40(3). http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/1186743.1186747

DOI: https://doi.org/10.5931/djim.v8i2.366


  • There are currently no refbacks.