Offshore UXO guidelines

Offshore UXO best practice guidelines released Offshore UXO best practice guidelines released

The Construction Industry Research and Information Association (CIRIA) in the UK has published guidelines for the management of unexploded ordnance (UXO) in the marine environment.

Assessment and management of unexploded ordnance risk in the marine environment (C754) outlines the prospective sources of UXO contamination and explains how it may pose a threat to intrusive engineering work.

For the first time, the guidelines provide a framework for the assessment and management of the risks posed by potential or actual UXO encounters.

“The law requires that UXO risk must be reduced to a level that is As Law As Reasonably Practicable (ALARP),” said Simon Cooke, managing director of 6 Alpha Associates and former Army bomb disposal officer.

He continued: “That means that a responsible, economic risk mitigation strategy is likely to involve avoiding known and suspected threats that may have been identified by specialist geophysical survey, and to keep to a minimum, as is commensurate with safety, those items that must be investigated, verified and, if they are in fact UXO, made safe.”

The guide identifies the roles and responsibilities as well as the duties of different organisations and stakeholders under existing legislative and regulatory regimes, it pinpoints where and when professional advice from an UXO specialist should be sought.

It represents those components that are required to deliver a professional risk mitigation strategy that is both comprehensive, cost-effective and delivers project safety.

The importance of responsible management is further underlined by a range of European and national legislation that makes project directors fully accountable should a UXO-related incident occur on site.

Mr Cooke added: “However, until now, a lack of understanding – whether between developers and contractors or between the management teams responsible for each phase of a project’s operation – has led many industry players either to neglect the true scale of the UXO threat until it’s too late, or to adopt excessive and very expensive clearance strategies.”

The new document has been developed due to the ever-growing offshore energy industry expanding in UK and European waters.

This means it is imperative that developers take account of and address site-specification risks. One of these main risks is posed by the legacy of unexploded ordnance left behind on the seabed by two World Wars, years of munitions dumping and military training.

Several offshore wind projects have experienced costly delays due to the mismanagement of UXO risks.

Joanne Kwan, project manager at CIRIA, concluded: ‘This document is the first UK good practice guidance and will provide comprehensive UXO risk management guidelines for all organisations working throughout the lifecycle of marine energy, cabling and infrastructure projects.”

The paper has been prepared by Royal HaskoningDHV, an international engineering and project management consultancy, and 6 Alpha Associates, a strategic advisor for managing offshore UXO risks.

By Alice Mason

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