The risks from munitions in the underwater environment are driven by two different effects: the explosive hazard associated with encounter and the environmental hazard associated with the release of the constituents contained in the round. In many underwater sites, particularly in deeper water not often accessed by divers, the likelihood of direct exposure is remote. In such cases, the main concern that drives management decisions is likely to be the environmental impact.
In 2022, ESTCP funded projects that will improve the detection of unexploded ordnance (UXO) using technologies above and below the water surface as well as explore a safer munition removal process. The selected projects are described in greater detail below.
These projects will hopefully lead to safer protocols when dealing with underwater UXOs. The technology demonstrations will provide data to make decisions under a wide variety of site conditions. Such technologies will enable site managers to identify areas with concentrations of munitions, as well as areas free of munitions. Demonstrating the use of cofferdams to perform munitions removal in nearshore areas represents a potential seminal innovation in terms of safety and cost. We look forward to seeing these projects progress over the next few years.