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CASE STUDY

Cowden_

In 2021 we successfully won a competitive tender from the Defence Infrastructure Organisation to manage the real and perceived risk of UXO at Mappleton Beach, Hull.  

The former air weapons range RAF Cowden is a coastal area of 275 hectares of land north of Hull. The site was used from the 1940s as a combined artillery and field firing range prior to transfer to RAF custody in 1955. Thereafter it remained an active range through until 1998, when the site was closed down.

Substantial EOD efforts have been made over the past twenty years to manage the UXO risk to the public. Although most of the ammunition expended on the range was on land-based targets, thousands of items of UXO appear on the beach each year. The rate of erosion in the area is on average 2.5m per year. As the sea erodes the cliffs, causing them to topple, UXO contamination on the headland is deposited on the beach. It is thought that over 2.5 million items of ammunition were expended on the range. On clean-up operations by 5131 RAF bomb disposal squadron, over 55,000 practice bombs were removed.

Cowden UXO being prepped
Preparing a explosive charge at Cowden.

The site is highly complex, with restricted access hours to the beach, high levels of contamination and public access. Stakeholder liaison Is equally Intricate, Involving the local council and local landowners through to the Ministry of Defence and Natural England.

We’ve deployed a team of advanced bomb disposal officer to manage the risk. They are equipped with an explosive magazine, three off-road vehicles and a secure compound at the former range headquarters. Our on-site team will be carrying out explosive demolitions on a weekly basis to destroy the dangerous Items, whilst remediating all inert objects to a demilitarisation and recycling plant. All operators have been trained in paramedic-level pre-hospital emergency care.

We’ll be on site for the next four years managing the UXO risk, through investigations, surveys and disposal operations.

An RAF practice bomb.
An American BDU-33 practice bomb

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