BBC Radio Humberside visit the Brimstone team at RAF Cowden
On 7th March 2023, BBC Radio Humberside visited our team at RAF Cowden to discuss the ongoing work we’re doing to clear UXO on the East Yorkshire Coast.
Our Site Manager, Paul Duckworth MBE, was interviewed for the Kofi Smiles’ morning show about our presence at Mappleton Beach and why the UXO we are finding is dangerous.
The history of RAF Cowden
RAF Cowden is a former air weapons range on the East Yorkshire Coast. From the 1940s through to 1955, the site was used as a combined artillery and field firing range. It was then transferred to RAF custody and remained an active range up until 1998.
The site consists of a coastal area of 275 hectares of land, and features some of the fastest eroding coastline in Europe. As the cliffs erode, UXO which was expended on the range is being deposited onto the public beach, creating a hazard for local residents. Brimstone won a competitive tender in 2021 to manage this ongoing UXO risk.
Showcasing our risk mitigation efforts
The visit from BBC Radio Humberside was the perfect opportunity to showcase the excellent work our team is doing to manage the UXO risk at Mappleton Beach.
Paul and the rest of the team showed reporter Amanda White around our secure compound at the former range headquarters. They then headed down onto the beach, where it took our explosives engineers just half an hour to find 100 items of UXO that needed disposing of.
Amanda was delighted to get stuck in with preparing the latest UXO finds for disposal. When the time came, Amanda was taken to the bunker and given the detonator where she got to complete the demolition, all of which was recorded and aired on the radio morning show.
Highlighting the danger
The radio broadcast focussed heavily on the risks of unexploded ordnance, with there being a common misconception that the practice bombs found on the beach are not dangerous.
It is thought that there are an estimated 300,000 practice bombs on the site, including 28lb practice bombs and 3” mortars to name just a couple of examples. Practice ammunition often contains explosive substances such as phosphorous, and we’ve found 20% of the UXO at RAF Cowden is still live. If a member of the public took one of these items of UXO home, there is a risk of the UXO becoming unstable and detonating, which could cause serious injury or worse.
During the interview, Paul commented “This range has been here a long, long time. These bombs aren’t going away anytime soon. Come and enjoy the beach, but please do not touch the UXO.”
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