Wartime Bombs on Building Sites – Here’s What To Do

June 8, 2017

In May 2017, 50,000 people in Hannover, Germany were evacuated from their homes, businesses, a clinic and a care home. Why? Three British World War 2 bombs had been uncovered by a mechanical excavator near one of the main bridges. You can read about it here.

Rather unlikely on a site in the UK, you say? Not so! According to the Construction Industry Research and Information Association, between 2006 and 2009 (the last detailed figures available), over 15,000 items of ordnance were found on construction sites in the UK. That’s a lot! And it doesn’t include stuff hit by the plough in farmers’ fields.

It’s true, the majority of “UXO” (UneXploded Ordnance) is found in cities that were heavily bombed in World War 2, like London, Coventry or Portsmouth. But many bombs went astray, landing in unexpected places. In areas where the military were present, ammunition may have been buried and the location never recorded.

So anyone involved regularly in groundwork ought to download a very useful publication: Unexploded Ordnance (UXO), a Guide for the Construction Industry, which is available as a free PDF file here. Also free is A Client’s Guide to Risk Assessment on UXO Sites get it here.

It has photos of all manner of ammunition as it looks when it has lain in the earth for years, and it gives you advice on what to do if you find any. For example, don’t take it home! Call the police immediately, who have a direct link to the Bomb Disposal authorities.


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