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Removal of heavy naval shell from Quang Tri's local home

15:51 | 24/07/2020

A quick response by Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Team No. 1 managed by Project RENEW/Norwegian People’s Aid (RENEW/NPA) in Quang Tri Province have helped prevent a potential, tragic accident that could have occurred in a dense neighborhood in Gio Linh District.

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removal of heavy naval shell from quang tris local home
Hoang Thien shows the RENEW/NPA surveyor the naval shell put near the yard of his house. Photo by Le Dang Hung [RENEW/NPA]

On July 23, the RENEW/NPA’s EOD team removed an 8-inch naval shell from a house in Tri Tien Village of Gio Son Commune. The team later transported the heavy weapon to RENEW/NPA’s central demolition site in Trieu Phong District and safely destroyed it.

A few days ago, 50-year-old Hoang Thien, a resident of Tri Tien Village, uncovered the naval shell at the depth of 1.5 meters while he was backfilling his garden with soil. He recklessly moved the shell closer to his house in spite of the immediate danger from the explosive ordnance. The location where he put the shell was just over one meter from his house’s cement yard where his young children play every day. 

Fortunately, on July 22 a pair of RENEW/NPA Non-Technical Surveyors were in the neighborhood, working in support of the Quang Tri Mine Action Center to set priorities of Confirmed Hazardous Areas in Gio Son that need clearance. 

As they interviewed the family and explained the dangers of explosive ordnance to them, the father of five children showed the RENEW/NPA surveyors the naval shell and asked for assistance.

RENEW/NPA’s Ops officers confirmed that the ordnance was an 8-inch naval projectile weighing 260 pounds (about 118 kg). The ordnance was filled with Explosive D – the standard main charge for Navy armor-piercing projectiles. If it accidentally explodes, its devastation would be terrible.

removal of heavy naval shell from quang tris local home
RENEW/NPA EOD team members detonate the naval shell safely at the central demolition site in Trieu Phong District. Photo by Le Xuan Tung [RENEW/NPA]
removal of heavy naval shell from quang tris local home
The naval shell safely destroyed. Photo by Le Xuan Tung [RENEW/NPA]

Community Still Needs to Be Reminded of EO Safety Messages

The incident indicates that some people are still not cautious enough when dealing with post-war explosive ordnance (EO). There is a need to continue conducting EO risk education outreach so that families understand the EO threat and how to protect themselves and their neighborhoods, and to help pinpoint locations of EO for safe removal.

The cleanup of wartime debris will likely continue for years. However, children and adults can be safe if they are educated about unexploded ordnance (UXO) risks and provided with guidance on what to do when they encounter explosive remnants of war around their homes and gardens, roadsides and school yards.

That’s where Mine Risk Education plays an integral role – by educating children and adults, who must continue to live with the threat of UXO, about how they can live safely, how they can avoid accident and injury, how they can be part of the day-to-day solution to this problem.

For nearly three years, since 2018, thanks to joint efforts of mine action organizations to survey and clear EO, Quang Tri Province has had zero accidents – a record since the war ended in 1975. Notwithstanding, it is important for the communities to be constantly reminded of the lingering threat of EO while survey and clearance operations continue for years into the future.

The NPA Clearance and Survey Program, implemented at Project RENEW, is funded by the US Department of State and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID). This is a cooperative project between NPA and Quang Tri Province Department of Foreign Affairs.

According to the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, Vietnam is one of countries most contaminated with UXOs.

It is estimated that about 800,000 tonnes of UXOs were left across the country after the war ended in 1975, mostly in the central region. Some 6.13 million hectares of land are polluted with or suspected of being polluted with UXOs, accounting for 18.82 percent of the country’s total area.

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