Skip to main content

Bombs and Unexploded Devices

Hazard Related Topics


Site groundwork including the excavation work (especially deep excavations) can provide a route to uncovering buried explosive devices. Those devices that have remained buried for many years can be inherently unstable due to the deterioration of chemicals used to construct internal detonators within the devices. Vibration from digging or pile driving equipment can be enough to provide the energy required to detonate such devices. Those involved in excavation work should consider the likely hood of unearthing any explosive devices and the precautions they might take to minimise danger to themselves and those near the site.

Sources of Information

There appears to be no national register of unexploded devices or areas that may be at high risk to consult. Local knowledge, information from local authorities, libraries or interest groups including historical societies could provide useful information. Local residents who lived in the site area during previous hostilities remain the most likely source of information. However, with the passing of time, the likely hood of such residents being at hand (because they are likely to have moved or died) decreases as the danger from the deterioration of the devices increases.

Higher Risk Areas

Capital Cities, major populations, manufacturing areas, especially heavy manufacturing, ports, railheads, military airfields including old wartime airfields and other military targets including military ranges are all potentially high risk areas for finding unexploded devices.

Risk Assessment

Risk assessors should consider the likelihood of finding such devices and if they assess the risk to be high, they should undertake a site survey by experts to clarify the situation. Personal protection equipment and communications by phone to call for help in an emergency would seem obvious issues to consider.

Emergency Agencies

In an emergency, the Police will carry our any necessary evacuation, secure the area and alert the relevant bomb disposal unit to take whatever action is deemed appropriate.