Storm Emma exposes two American unexploded anti-tank mines in Devon
Both anti-tank mines were exposed on a beach used for live fire exercises during World War II.
It is not clear whether this explosive washed up on the beach as a result of the storm surge, or it was already shallow buried on the beach and exposed by storm erosion.
Click here to read a news article covering these incidents.
Weather events and Unexploded Ordnance (UXO)
Storm events often bring about UXO finds in the U.K. Heavy and persistent rainfall, as well as higher tides, erode river banks and coastal sediment. This causes buried items such as unexploded anti-tank mines to be released, creating a hazard to the public.
The allied Armies based in England during WWII wanted to create training exercises that closely simulated the real thing. As such, they often used live ammunition during military exercises on British soil. Inevitably some items failed to function, creating the legacy of unexploded ammunition we see today.
WWII allied commanders organised a large scale amphibious training manoeuvre – Exercise Tiger – in the spring of 1944. It took place at Slapton Sands and was so realistic, navy warships bombarded the beach with live ammunition.
Are all beaches at greater risk of UXO contamination?
The unique combination of sea action and historic military defence does indicate that, generally speaking, coastlines can concentrate UXO. Naval weapons such as mines and shells frequently wash up on shores around the world. And this is in addition to land-based military activity resulting in coastal UXO contamination.
If your ground works are taking place in a coastal location, Brimstone would always recommend carrying out a Stage Detailed UXO Risk Assessment prior to breaking ground.