The Construction Industry Research and Information Association (CIRIA) has published essential guidelines for the management of unexploded ordnance (UXO) in the marine environment.
CIRIA’s report, entitled Assessment and management of unexploded ordnance (UXO) risk in the marine environment (C754) has been prepared by Royal HaskoningDHV, an international engineering and project management consultancy, and 6 Alpha Associates, a strategic adviser for managing offshore UXO risks.
As the offshore energy industry expands in UK and European waters, construction in the marine environment - ranging from installation of wind turbine foundations to cable laying – is taking place on an unprecedented scale. Throughout this process it is imperative that developers take account of and address site-specific risks, both to the safety of personnel and to the successful completion of a project.
One such risk is posed by the sizable legacy of unexploded ordnance left behind on the seabed by two World Wars, years of munitions dumping and military training and testing. Several European offshore wind projects have experienced costly delays relating to mismanagement of UXO risks especially during construction, highlighting the need for a more robust and coordinated approach to the assessment and mitigation of this risk.
Furthermore, as projects move from the early construction phases into a prolonged period of operations and maintenance (O&M) activity, incoming management teams must be made aware of the on going threat posed by the prospective migration of UXO throughout the life cycle of a project. 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.
Faced with this substantial long-term health and safety, legal and economic hazard, the marine construction industry has increasingly called for guidance with regard to the ongoing management of UXO risk.
The guidance defines the marine environment and outlines the prospective sources of UXO contamination. It describes how it might pose a threat to intrusive engineering work and it provides, for the first time, a framework for the assessment and management of the risks posed by potential or actual UXO encounter. Additionally, the guide identifies the roles and responsibilities as well as the duties of different organizations and stakeholders under existing legislative and regulatory regimes and pinpoints where and when professional advice from an UXO specialist should be sought.
In doing so, the guide presents and describes those components that are required to deliver a professional risk mitigation strategy – based on effective hazard identification and efficient assessment, management and communication of risk - that is both comprehensive, cost-effective and critically, delivers project safety.
Simon Cooke, Managing Director, at 6 Alpha Associates, and a former Army bomb Disposal officer said: “The law requires that UXO risk must be reduced to a level that is As Low As Reasonably Practicable (ALARP). 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”.
“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.”
Joanne Kwan, Project Manager, CIRIA said ‘This document is the first UK good practice guidance and will provide comprehensive UXO risk management guidelines for all organizations working throughout the life cycle of marine energy, cabling and infrastructure projects.”
Nick Cooper, Technical Director, Royal HaskoningDHV, added: “This report aims to lay the foundations for a universal best practice, ensuring that information is readily accessible to professionals across the field, and to ensure that suitable procedures are established concerning the effective management of UXO risks”
“By bringing in centralized, formal guidance, we’re hoping to address a worrying knowledge gap once and for all and at the same time, to enhance standards across the board.”