Unexploded Ordnance Remediation
According to the International Red Cross, over 2,000 people a month are injured or killed by unexploded ordnance and landmines (UXO).
Sites contaminated with UXO prevent civilian land use for agriculture or development. In the United States alone over 15 million acres may be contaminated by UXO. The US Environmental Protection Agency estimates UXO at 16,000 domestic inactive military ranges pose an “imminent and substantial” public health risk and could require the largest environmental cleanup ever. According to all estimates, remediation costs at suspect sites will exceed $15 billion.
Private sector companies perform the remediation work through contracts from the US government. The US government currently spends $200 million annually on UXO remediation. The work is labor-intensive using current methods. It is estimated that 70-80% is spent on surveying, removing vegetation, transportation, and personnel to manually detect and map UXO with metal detectors.
Other methods of mapping UXO include digital geophysics detection with ATVs or helicopters. The ATVs are limited in their capabilities, particularly in the littorals or overgrown environments typical of the sites. Helicopters are not cost-effective for the task and the very low altitude required by the sensors has been blamed for several accidents.