EOD projects in 2014
In 2014, we completed more than 80 projects, most of them EOD projects. Some examples are listed below.
Whistling bombs in Vroenhoven
Prior to the construction of the new residential area ‘Op de Wilder’ along the Albert Canal in Vroenhoven, archaeological excavations were carried out. Since the area is considered suspect for UXO presence, Bom-Be assisted the excavations. Among other things, we found old coins dating from 1706, hundreds of small calibre shells, detonators, 85 rifle grenades, 6 egg grenades and, last but not least, 4 aerial bombs, each 50 kg with an explosive load of 25 kg. They were found at a depth of 1 m approx., relatively close to one another. The bombs and their detonators were all intact, and were probably dropped bu Stuka’s, German fighter planes, during WW II. They were mounted with a ‘whistle’ so they truly made a whistling sound on descent, in order to create panic among the assaulted. All ammunition finds were handed over to DOVO, the Belgian military EOD division.
Where there is smoke, there is … white phosphorus
Elia ordered Bom-Be to search for UXO on a construction site for a new high voltage substation. The entire site was suspect for finding unexploded artillery and small calibre ammunition from World War I. First we carried out a multisensor surface detection, resulting in the discovery of about 70 anomalies. Also, part of the terrain could not be detected due to metallic contamination of the soil. In the second phase, our experts approached the detected suspect objects, and proceeded with the layered excavation of the non-detectable area. They found a detonator, auxiliary chargers with over 300 bullets, and shards of a phosphorus grenade. The white phosphorus from this grenade ignited after contact with the air, producing a thick white column of smoke.
Project Waterfront Harderwijk (NL)
Waterfront is an ambitious project that will completely reshape the coast line that runs along the centre of Harderwijk (NL): 1400 homes near the water, a new marina and inland port, a city beach, two underground car parks and many shopping, catering and leisure facilities, and all this by moving the present industries to new locations. Our Dutch sister company Van den Herik has been calling upon our (Senior) UXO experts for all the necessary surface and depth detections and approachings. All this wasn’t in vain, we found dozens of 30 lbs. aerial (incendiary) bombs, 20 mm grenades and other UXO.
Airplane bomb in Lokeren
At the request of the City of Lokeren, Bom-Be detected an area a cycle track was planned. According to witness, an aerial bomb had impacted without exploding during WW II. First, we performed a multisensor surface detection, and subsequent analysis of the data indeed revealed the presence of an object with the characteristics of an aerial bomb. The City didn’t want to take any risks and contacted us again to approach this object. This proved to be a completely justified decision … You can watch the news items (in Dutch) on VTM and TV OOST, and find more photographs and explanations on our Facebook page, accessible without logging in.
Stray ammunition in Hombeek
During ground works on a turf square in the centre of Hombeek (Mechelen), city personnel found a grenade shell. Consequently, the City Council contacted Bom-Be in order to guarantee the safety of further activities. We found another (empty) shell and about thirty small calibre items. Other finds on the site indicate that this ammunition used to be part of someone’s collection, also because there isn’t any knowledge about combat activities around the old town hall during the war. During our survey, the substitute Mayor and the press honoured us with a visit, but at that moment we still hadn’t found anything, as is reflected in the articles of Het Nieuwsblad and GVA (in Dutch).
Historical survey in Grave (NL)
By order of Aeres Milieu, Bom-Be carried out a preliminary study concerning UXO in the soil near de Generaal de Bons road in Grave. The survey was required to get an insight in the UXO load that may have arisen during WW II in the project area. Therefore, our historians made an inventory of the information and aerial photographs available in the mandatory list of archives, as prescribed by the WSCS-OCE. Analysis of these sources led to the conclusion that the area is indeed suspect for the presence of UXO. On the basis of this result we will also perform a surface detection for Aeres Milieu.
Depth detection in the marl
In the past, personnel of the Lixhe quarry frequently encountered various types of war ammunition, exposing them to evident safety risks. That’s why cement manufacturers CBR contacted us for a cone penetration probing with depth detection down to 8 m, in areas where the expansion of the quarry is planned. A marvellous environment, but not an easy job, evidenced by the fact that a penetration cone was left stuck in a hard layer at one of the detection points. We used two types of cone penetration push systems: a geoprobe and a CPT caterpillar vehicle. The last one was more efficient for far off detection points.
Three historical surveys of aerial bombs in Ghent
Our historians delved into the archives for one historical study by order of the City of Ghent, and two by order of FARYS (formerly TMVW), the local water company. The three research areas – the Port of Ghent, Gentbrugge and Melle/Merelbeke/Ghent, were all bombarded during WW II, the Port of Ghent was also hit during WW I. The amount of detailed information and aerial photographs that can be found in the archives is truly fascinating, and by georeferencing these aerial pictures we can accurately map out the risk areas. In all surveyed areas we established a considerable risk of finding aerial bombs and mapped it out.
Strange forms in Ypres
Sometimes, ammunition comes in bizarre shapes. Like this 2 inch Trench Mortar, which we found at a site in Ypres, and looks like a big toffee apple. The tail was put in the 2 inch barrel of a mortar, and the ball holds the explosive charge, weighing some 19 kg. These items were fired from the trenches by the British troups, aiming to destroy the enemy barbed wire lines or hit their trensches. As ever, we carried this piece over to DOVO, along with other UXO items we found.
Multisensor survey for Munnikenland
Before the start of the civil engineering works for the ‘Munnikenland’ project, part of a suspect area had to be searched for the presence of war ammunition. An historical UXO survey had shown the presence of foxholes and manholes from the war, still visible on aerial photographs, and a possibility of encountering ammunition dumps. Bom-Be detected the area with a multisensor configuration to a depth of 2 m. Even though parts of the site were too contaminated with metals for proper data interpretation, in other zones we detected more than 200 anomalies with characteristics of foxholes or dumped ammunition.
New gas pipeline in the Westhoek
Fluxys will implement 74 km of gas pipeline between Alveringem and Maldegem, and more than 6 km between Houthulst and Langemark-Poelkappelle. The Westhoek is well known as a long-term battlefield during WW I, and today the soil is still littered with (toxic) ammunition. Bom-Be was called in for different phases of the project. First, we assisted the cone penetration tests (CPT) performed by SGS, and during the last months of 2013 through to 2014, Bom-Be performed a computer-aided multisensor surface detection of the area along the pipeline, totalling almost 300 ha.
HistoricalUXO survey for wind farm on the North Sea
The Dutch company Saricon called upon Bom-Be for an historical UXO survey concerning the risk of UXO presence on the North Sea soil, in a planning zone for a wind farm.
During the First and Second World War, returning bombers often dropped unused bombs over the North Sea before landing back on British soil, bombardments of ships took place, and ammunition dumps were created.
Heavy howitzer grenade in Beselare
Our experts assisted the excavation works for the construction of a waste water collector by Aquafin. During the layered excavations we found several explosion craters, and several UXO items. The most illustrious find was a 9,2” howitzer grenade which had penetrated the soil to a depth of 2,5 m without exploding. It was fired from a distance of about 10 km on the German Flandern I-Stellung
School in Explosion zone
During the preparing stage of sewer pipe construction on the grounds of Sint Lodewijk, artillery grenades were discovered, one filled with war gas. This shouldn’t have come as a surprise, since the site is located in an area were an ammunition storage facility exploded during and after WW I, and dangerous explosives were spread far around. At the request of the school, Bom-Be carried out two detections, in 2012 and in 2013. In 2014 we approached, identified and secured the suspect objects, allowing for safe and uninterrupted execution of the infrastructure works. We found 3 artillery grenades, 2 of which were shrapnels.
NATO Headquarters in Evere
In 2010, Bom-Be drafted up a working method for the construction of the new NATO headquarters, and since then a German and a British aerial bomb were found. Bom-Be still assists the operations, and in a last phase we mainly carried out depth detections by drilling and cone penetration.
Depth detection in Bombardment street
Royal Haskoning charged Bom-Be with the assistance of hole drillings on a site with risk of encountering UXO, located at Bombardment Street – what’s in a name? We were provided with a list of 20 coordinates, which were set out on the site with GPS, after which our EOD expert checked these points with passive and/or active detectors. For points that couldn’t be declassidied, a new UXO-free location was pinpointed nearby. Immediately afterwards, our expert supervised the drilling of bore holes to a depth of 2 m, and gauge pipes to a depth of 3,5m.
Safe proceedings at Ottignies station?
Bom-Be carried out an historical survey concerning the possible presence of UXO in the vicinity of Ottignies station. We received this justified request by Aries Consultants, since the station had been the target of heavy allied bombardments in April of 1944, when it was German occupied territory. Almost 200 RAF bombers were deployed, and thousands of bombs were dropped. Since it is a given that about 10 to 15 % of the aerial bombs, dropped during WW II, didn’t explode, there was clear and present danger at the site. By using aerial photograph interpretation and consulting war archives, we were able to clearly delimit the risk zones.
Marina with mortars
Before the start of the civil engineering works at the marina of Waspik, Bom-Be carried out the detection, approaching and securing of UXO, at the request of Combinatie De Hollandsche Waard-Overdiep. After securing some mortar grenades, the detected areas were released to the contractor.
German aerial bomb in Riemst
Before the construction of a housing area, the Flemish Society for Social Housing decided to have the archaeological sample trenching survey assisted by Bom-Be. After all, there was a considerable risk of finding UXO in the soil, since the site is located near Vroenhoven bridge in Riemst, where a heavy battle was fought between Belgian and German troups, on te 10th of May 1940. We detected an anomaly at a meter’s depth, which we approached and identified as an intact, unexploded German aerial bomb. It was possibly dropped on the Belgian lines by the dreaded Stuka dive bomber during the aforementioned battle. Our experts handled the situation so that DOVO could safely remove the bomb.
Multisensor surface detection in Mechelen
Bopro charged Bom-Be with a surface detection on the Ragheno site. An historical survey had shown this site to be suspect of the presence of aerial bombs. During previous activities on the site, 90 mm grenades had already been found.