by Lenny Siegel

At most properties known or suspected to contain unexploded ordnance (UXO), the people who live, work, learn, and recreate on or near the sites have a high expectation that action will be taken to ELIMINATE explosive risk. While the 100% reliability expected by many members of the public is beyond foreseeable technological capability, there is obviously room for improvement in both the technology of UXO response and the supporting science. Many stakeholders are willing to accept delayed subsurface clearance if the property can be made safe to walk upon for now, and they can be assured that better technologies are on the way.

Over the next decade, public stakeholders expect the development of better, more cost effective technologies to:

  1. Screen wide areas for locations likely (and unlikely) to contain surface or subsurface UXO, as well as buried munitions stocks
  2. Characterize impact areas well enough to develop updatable site conceptual models to assist in the selection and optimization of remedies
  3. Reliably detect almost all unexploded ordnance in areas believed to contain UXO
  4. Diminish the need to devegetate before clearance, particularly with fires that may threaten both public health and, in some locations, sensitive species or habitat
  5. Reduced the number of costly, environmentally damaging excavations of non-explosive anomalies
  6. Dispose of detected UXO, of any size or quantity, without the noise, blast, and emissions associated with open detonation
  7. Characterize and treat toxic explosive compounds found either as a result of the explosion or corrosion of ordnance
  8. Quickly and reliably ensure that range scrap does not contain explosive material.
  9. In addition, scientific research must be advanced, not only to support directly the development of UXO response technologies, but to better understand the fate and transport of ordnance and explosive wastes. Research, the public believes, should better enable us to understand the migration of buried UXO and well as other processes, such as erosion, likely to open hazard pathways. Research should also help us better understand how toxic explosive compounds are released in range areas and how they might be better controlled, treated, or removed.

    Finally, many members of the public recognize, along with UXO professionals, that both short-term and long-term risk management strategies usually entail both access controls, such as signs, fences, and/or patrols, as well as public education. These protective activities must be supported by the same level of scientific research - to determine what strategies are generally most likely to be effective - as the more technical challenges associated with UXO.