UXO: Do you know whats under your feet?


Over the weekend, just five miles from Landmark’s head office in Exeter, a controlled explosion was carried out by Bomb Disposal Experts after a WWII unexploded device was found at a building site on

Glenthorne Road on Friday 26th February.  It was reported that over 2600 households and University of Exeter halls of residence had to be evacuated as part of the major incident, while experts worked on securing the situation, which led to the device being safely detonated on Sunday.

Finds of unexploded ordnance (UXO) of this nature are not as uncommon as you may think.  Conduct a brief online search and, at a glance, there are reports of other ‘finds’ in Huntingdon, Kings Hill, Hemel Hempstead and Clydebank during the last 12-months alone.  The reality is, that seven decades from the end of World War II, UXO continues to be a serious threat to construction projects across the country.

The Construction Industry Research & Information Association (CIRIA) guidance on assessing UXO risk on sites recommends conducting a preliminary risk assessment for UXO on all sites as a matter of course. Irrespective of whether the site is in an industrialised urban area or open countryside, any site can face a potential risk from UXO. It is therefore wise to undertake due diligence at the outset of any project.

Preliminary and Detailed Bomb Search reports help to determine potential dangers to a site, providing screening reports and probability assessments. This includes a list of UXO threat sources to the site in questions, recommendations with visualised map displaying the probability of a UXO encounter, as well as WWII high explosive bomb density.

The implications of discovering an unexploded device could be significant on many levels and therefore the more accurately you can pinpoint potential risk on a project, the more effectively it can be managed, mitigated, and ultimately ensure the construction project remains on schedule, without any concealed surprises.