Redeveloping London’s WWII Bomb Sites – the Continuing Risk of UXB

London-Bomb-Damage-Map-300x207The Guardian has written an interesting piece on the redevelopment of London’s WWII bomb sites. Large swathes of the capital were reduced to rubble during the Luftwaffe blitz of 1940-1, forcing a major rebuilding programme at the conclusion of the war. The London County Council (LCC) subsequently produced a colour-coded bomb damage map (see inset) that was used to identify areas in need of reconstruction.

The article notes that many such bomb sites have undergone at least two, if not three, phases of redevelopment since 1945 due to changing building requirements and architectural preferences. Despite this, it points out, ‘occasionally, these private projects disinter unexploded bombs (UXB) that have sat silently under social housing blocks’.

There is often a misconception that because a site damaged during the war has been extensively redeveloped, it no longer has an associated unexploded ordnance (UXO) risk. Yet the three German UXB discovered in London this year – in Bermondsey, Wembley and recently in Bethnal Green – have all been found on sites that have been developed since the war. Indeed, the Bethnal Green UXB was actually found beneath an existing basement.

It is critical, therefore, that steps are taken to mitigate any potential UXO hazard, particularly in areas subjected to heavy WWII bombing. A risk assessment is a good starting point and can, at an early stage, discount the need for any more proactive mitigation.

Whilst none of the UXB discovered this year have proved harmful, they have caused great disruption and are a reminder of the potential hazards that lurk beneath building sites across the capital.

Whether a site has been redeveloped or not, it is prudent to address the potential UXO hazard at an early stage to prevent any nasty surprises and to ensure the safety of both workers and the general public.

For the full Guardian article see: