Humanitarian mine action (HMA) survey and clearance operations have always focused on the contamination that can be seen. Whether it is anti-personnel (AP) mines, anti-vehicles (AV) mines, or explosive remnants of war (ERW), our efforts focus on removing items that pose an immediate blast and fragmentation hazard to humans. However, in certain circumstances, explosive ordnance (EO) also poses a significant environmental hazard, not least from the toxicity of its components, such as heavy metals and explosives. The understanding of contamination from EO in air, soil, and water has developed significantly in recent decades.[i] [ii] [iii] [iv] This has mainly been driven by scientists and industry, as well as military users required to focus on the environmental impact of military training, and led to the development of improved management practices to mitigate the associated environmental risk.[v] [vi] [vii] [viii]This has lead in some countries to significant policy change. Notably the tonnage of munitions disposed of by open burning open detonation (OBOD) by the United States Department of Defense decreased by 58 percent during the period 1998–2018.[ix] In comparison, it is not clear that HMA is universally applying best practice to mitigate the chemical contamination risk from its clearance and explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) activities. A sector that follows simple principles such as “do no harm” and ostensibly always seeks to apply “all reasonable effort” might wish to review and update its current approach.



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