Buried bomb risk worsened by bushfires: councillor

Buried bomb risk worsened by bushfires: councillor

1 October 2009

published by www.brisbanetimes.com.au

Australia — Nearly 40,000 blocks of land across Brisbane and Ipswich are contaminated by World War Two explosives still buried underground.

Updated unexploded ordnance (UXO) data made available by the Commonwealth Government identifies 307 areas across Queensland affected by unexploded military ammunition, including artillery, mortars, grenades and aircraft practice bombs. Seventy-three of those areas are considered “substantially” affected, however the possibility of harm is considered low.

There is a high concentration of ammunition in Ipswich from the use of Redbank as a major Australian and US military base in World War Two.

Moreton Bay and parts of far north Queensland also have high levels of buried UXO.

In Brisbane, the Department of Defence estimates 22,000 parcels of land across six separate site are contaminated by unexploded ammunition.

In its official advice, the Department of Defence says old unexploded ordnance is dangerous but insists it “won’t hurt you if you don’t disturb it.” Authorities urge anyone who finds to contact police immediately to arrange removal.

“Unless the UXO was deliberately disturbed (picked up, played with, kicked, thrown, etc) there are no known instances, in Australia, where a UXO has injured a member of the public,” the Department’s website says.

However, Ipswich Councillor Paul Tully said there had been reports of children handling ammunition in the local area and it exploding during bushfires.

He said several unexploded ordnance had been dug up by contractors recently upgrading the Ipswich Motorway, and in 2006 workers found a live mortar bomb at Redbank Plains during the installation of a water pipeline. In July, army bomb disposal experts were called in to remove an unexploded grenade from a building site near Darra railway station.

“It’s almost 65 years since the end of World War II and we still have these bombs lying around waiting for a tragedy to happen,” he said.

“There are regular reports of UXOs being unearthed by inquisitive children or popping-off during local bushfires.

“The Yanks are responsible for many of these unexploded bombs buried around Ipswich and they should bear the cost of cleaning it up.”

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