The Risk of Dredging – UXO Found at Poole Harbour

Poole-Quay.JPG-pwrt3-300x200The channel into Holes Bay at Poole Harbour was closed this morning after Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) was found in the water close to the Semex Sand Yard. An Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team was called to the scene and destroyed the device in a controlled explosion.

This is the second such incident at the yard in recent years. In 2009, a hand grenade was discovered in a batch of sand, thought to have been dredged off the Isle of Wight.

Indeed, such finds at Poole Quay are not unique. In June 2008, a WWII shell was dredged up 30 metres from the quayside, forcing the evacuation of local pubs and restaurants.  In January 2014, fishermen retrieved two unexploded mortars from the quay and took them home before coming to their senses and reporting the items to the Police.

It is unknown whether this latest item of UXO has similar origins. Offshore dredging provides a potential source of UXO hazard across the UK, particularly along the south coast where numerous firing ranges, Anti-Aircraft (AA) guns and minefields were located, in addition to being the scene of naval battles and aircraft crashes. Poole Bay itself was used as an amphibious training area in the build-up to D-Day.

Guidance is available to help manage the UXO risk when dredging offshore, where there is the potential to encounter a wide range of munitions. Caution is always advised for such operations and a detailed UXO risk assessment is the first crucial step in the mitigation process.