erw
Landmines and bombs - a part of the risk assessment process

Since oil and gas are global commodities and are extracted from the ground in any number of post-conflict countries , which is where landmines and bombs are also often to be found - and also since I have been active in dealing with such things for more years than I care to remember. I thought that there might be some interest in opening a discussion into what these things are, what they can do, how they can impact operations and safety and .... what to do about them.

Before I kick off, I'll wait to see if there is any interest.........

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interested.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the very swift response, Tom! I will kick off with some comments shortly.

Cheers, 

Matt

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Matt, you seem to have a background that is a tad bit more dangerous than most.  So I'm curious to see what you have to say about clearing landmines and bombs.

A couple years ago on the now defunct Oilpro forum there were some discussions on a similar topic.  Was that you?  (Apologies, I can't recall if that was by you or someone else.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tom, yes that was me posting on the same subject on the now defunct Oilpro forum.

I'm a bit of a one trick pony since, explosives and that kind of stuff have been my bread and butter for many years, so its the one subject I know a little about. However I do grow organic vegetables and herbs too! Don't get me started on that or I'll post pics of my tropical Rosemary shrub.

But I would add that whilst my subject matter (bombs n things) is perceived, rightly, to be a dangerous area to work in, my many years of training and experience with the subject have always been from the perspective of safety - how to avoid danger, control risks and, where necessary, to deal with the pesky critters in the safest way.

In my view, people who venture into mines and UXO contaminated areas without training or EOD support are more at risk than I.

And there are many examples of risk taking even in this enlightened age of HSE+. For example, a couple of months ago in Hong Kong, a major construction site unearthed 2 rather large WW2 American bombs. It was pretty obvious therefore that there was a risk of more being found, since that area had been heavily bombed by the Allies after the Japanese occupation.

Intriguingly, the construction site owner responded to the risk by giving the construction workers some hand held metal detectors, with orders to "look for unexploded ordnance in your place of work". I am not kidding. Such stupidity is unfortunately not uncommon, even today.

In another example of, in this case, unwitting stupidity, a certain organisation that I was later a consultant for arranged that in the event of a terrorist bomb incident involving their area, the entire company staff would evacuate the building and congregate for a roll call adjacent the biggest area of glass in the building. Thus ensuring maximum casualties in the event of an explosion.

Anyway I hope that this topic will increase awareness of the subject of landmines and unexploded ordnance and also provoke discussion amongst people interested in oil and gas, since anything that affects safety may also affect profitability, among other things.

 

  • Like 1
  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Eodmatt said:

explosives and that kind of stuff have been my bread and butter for many years, so its the one subject I know a little about. However I do grow organic vegetables and herbs too! Don't get me started on that or I'll post pics of my tropical Rosemary shrub.

... can't ... resist ...

none-shall-pass-unless-you-bringeth-a-shrubbery.jpg

Anyway, yes, I remember your clearing landmines and bombs threads.  Looking forward to reading about this explosive topic again.  Your previous threads could be a bit nerve wracking; you seem to like living dangerously.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While I was working as a security adviser to a very large Chinese seismic acquisition company I was asked to go downstairs to join a discussion regarding one of their projects in Iraq. On arrival, I was asked if I knew anything about up-armoring vehicles such as pick-up trucks and Land Cruisers. I said that I was aware of the practice but had limited technical knowledge and I asked them why they were interested.

They explained that their client (who I will not name but was a company that should have known better) had suggested that they might want to consider up-armouring their vehicles. I asked why?

They said that their client told them that the area in which they were to do seismic acquisition might be at risk from landmines. My response was that if there was any perceived risk from landmines then risk management measures should have been put in place well before the seismic company was tasked. They countered by saying that's what the up-armoring was about. I explained that up-armouring, like PPE, was a last resort safety measure and that actual risk management practices needed to take place before the seismic project started such as a survey (won't get into the different levels here) of the area to establish whether or not there was an actual risk. If the risk of landmines could not be dismissed with certainty, then some form of clearance of the seismic lines needed to be undertaken as up-armouring vehicles and sending personnel within those vehicles into an area where they could get blown to pieces by anti-vehicle mines was not the best H&S practice.

Ah, yes, but the client says that landmines only "might" be a problem; they not 100% sure... And so I repeated myself and we went round in circles as every effort was made to come up with answers that would not offend the client and so I stood my ground until I was thanked for my input and told that they didn't need to bother me anymore.

Very worrying.  

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, Mark Ranson said:

the client says that landmines only "might" be a problem; they not 100% sure.

"might" ?

Hi Mark, welcome to the Oil Price forum.  Another Oilpro refugee, I believe.  Pretty sure I recall that you posted a few "explosive" security threads on Oilpro.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, Tom Kirkman said:

... can't ... resist ...

none-shall-pass-unless-you-bringeth-a-shrubbery.jpg

Anyway, yes, I remember your clearing landmines and bombs threads.  Looking forward to reading about this explosive topic again.  Your previous threads could be a bit nerve wracking; you seem to like living dangerously.

Right Tom, you asked for it! Me Rosemary bush.

 

0-02-06-4919143fe1d02c5ffefb414aad06f2928de323996acddb82c92c5f75347279f3_1c6d9175bc698a.jpg

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Eodmatt said:

Right Tom, you asked for it! Me Rosemary bush.

0-02-06-4919143fe1d02c5ffefb414aad06f2928de323996acddb82c92c5f75347279f3_1c6d9175bc698a.jpg

Thanks, that's a great specimen of a Rosemary shrub, Matt.  Nice to have a relaxing pastime, away from the stresses of work.

Please continue on telling your experiences of unexploded landmines, bombs and other hazardous risk assessment processes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tom, yes that was me posting on the same subject on the now defunct Oilpro forum. I'm a bit of a one trick pony since, explosives and that kind of stuff have been my bread and butter for many years, so its the one subject I know a little about. However I do grow organic vegetables and herbs too! Don't get me started on that or I'll post pics of my tropical Rosemary shrub.

But I would add that whilst my subject matter (bombs n things) is perceived, rightly, to be a dangerous area to work in, my many years of training and experience and concomitant actual with the subject have always been from the perspective of safety - how to avoid danger, control risks and, where necessary, to deal with the pesky critters in the safest way.

In my view, people who venture into mines and UXO contaminated areas without training or EOD support are more at risk than I.

And there are many examples of risk taking even in this enlightened age of HSE+. For example, a couple of months ago in Hong Kong, a major construction site unearthed 2 rather large WW2 American bombs. It was pretty obvious therefore that there was a risk of more being found, since that area had been heavily bombed by the Allies after the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong.

Intriguingly, the construction site owner responded to the risk by giving the construction workers some hand held metal detectors, with orders to "look for unexploded ordnance in your place of work". I am not kidding. Such stupidity is unfortunately not uncommon, even today.

Another example of, in this case, unwitting stupidity, a certain organisation that I was later a consultant for arranged that in the event of a terrorist bomb incident involving their area, the entire company staff would evacuate the building and congregate for a roll call adjacent the biggest area of glass in the building. Thus ensuring maximum casualties in the event of an explosion.

Anyway I hope that this topic will increase awareness of the subject of landmines and unexploded ordnance and also provoke discussion amongst people interested in oil and gas, since anything that affects safety may also affect profitability, among other things.

22 hours ago, Tom Kirkman said:

Thanks, that's a great specimen of a Rosemary shrub, Matt.  Nice to have a relaxing pastime, away from the stresses of work.

Please continue on telling your experiences of unexploded landmines, bombs and other hazardous risk assessment processes.

Thanks Tom! I am not sure that it is a great specimen of a Rosemary shrub, but it is a specimen! Rosemary is not native to south Vietnam, n being a shrub that likes a hot and sunny, almost arid environment. I have found it growing in Cyprus, Greece, Bosnia and Turkey. Rosemary dislikes very humid environments (apparently) and little rainfall. But my little shrub is doing well in a sunny spot with high humidity (84% today) and tropical rain fall -we are in the rainy season right now and its been honking down for weeks. I digress....

One of the things that never fails to amaze me in the oil industry (and the building industry) is that HSE and safety blokes will have seizures over people not wearing Hi Viz gear, safety shoes, eye protection and so on. There is an almost religious fervour about compliance with such 'elf n safety attributes. Yet, mention the word Landmine or the acronym UXO, the same 'elf n safety perps will often turn a deaf ear and a Nelsonian eye.

What, eh? Whats that you say? Can't happen here! They will chant, piously.

When I was working as UXO clearance manager for a seismic acquisition project in Vietnam for a French company, the HSE manager grabbed me one day and said: "I think that the likelihood of us finding UXO here, or of an accident happening with UXO, is prolly (he didn't say prolly, thats my contraction of the word "probably" - I'm too idle to write it in full) the same as being hit by a meteorite".

I showed him a copy of the local (An Giang) provincial newspaper which had a front page story about two blokes being killed the day before by digging and hitting a UXO, a few kilometres away from our base (a small town called Hong Ngu) - and I gave him a copy of a report I had written about the 500lb bomb we had found in a rice field about 2 metres from a seismic acquisition line a couple of days before. 

"Oh", he said. "But still, its very unlikely to happen to us". He said hopefully.

I asked him how many accidents involving eye injuries his company had sustained in the last year. None apparently.

So I suggested that we discontinue issuing eye protection to the workers to save money. He was aghast.

"You cant do that. Its.... its, against 'elf n safety rules". He spluttered.

But when I told him that if the 500lb bomb we had located was to detonate, it would be a hazard - a risk of serious injury or death to people - out to around 1500 metres, he was unimpressed. 

"Yeah, but thats unlikely to happen", he said.

Decisions based on ignorance, made by people who should know better, to ignore risk from UXO are common-place in the oil and construction industries even in this day and age.

I made reference earlier, to a very recent (a couple of months ago) decision made by the MTR in Hong Kong at a major construction site, to issue workers with metal detectors so that they could search their worksites for bombs.

Having been around for a few years it takes a lot to amaze me, but I was amazed by the total stupidity of this decision made by the senior management of MTR.

I mean, to begin with, would the workers recognise a "bomb" if they found one? They come in all sizes from a few millimetres calibre, up to several tons in weight. And what would they do if they found a bomb?

In fact, someone advised the board of directors of MTR of the utter stupidity of their decision and the process of untrained workers searching for bombs was discontinued. Fortuitously as it turned out because another rather large bomb was discovered close by, a week or so later. 

 

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hong Kong bomb squad safely defuse wartime bomb on city landfill site

https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/hong-kong-law-and-crime/article/2158127/bomb-squad-deployed-hong-kong-landfill-site#add-comment

The above link refers to an article from early August 2018 in the South China Morning Post in Hong, which Kong dutifully reported the discovery of an item of unexploded ordnance (UXO) at a landfill in the Tseung Kwan O district. 

The matter was simply treated as an incidental item of boring news rather than highlighting what appears to be an act of criminal negligence. Let me explain what actually seems to have happened:

1.    A UXO was discovered during some form of construction activity, either dredging or excavation. 

2.    In Hong Kong, particularly in some locations (around the harbour and the former Kai Tak airport area for example) UXO are a known risk. 

3.    Under the Labour Departments Factories and Industrial Undertakings Ordinance (Chapter 59), failure to manage a known risk can be deemed a criminal offence and clearly, the risk was not managed at the site where this UXO was originally found.

4.    It would appear from reports (including the HK Police EOD Bureau) that the UXO in question was a 9.2-inch projectile. Weighing around 170kg, this item would have been difficult to miss when lifted by a dredger or in the bucket of an excavator. 

5.    This strongly indicates that the UXO was discovered at a construction site and then KNOWINGLY placed in a dump truck for removal off site without calling the HK Police EOD Bureau at the time it was found.

6.    If so, this potentially, highly dangerous UXO that was designed to sink ships, smash buildings and kill people, was then KNOWINGLY driven in the back of a truck through heavily populated and highly built up areas of Hong Kong/Kowloon placing the truck driver and the general public at risk. 

7.    It was then KNOWINGLY dumped at a construction waste landfill thus placing landfill workers at risk.

The point I’m trying to make here is that risk management procedures were dangerously absent and laws were broken from the beginning to the end of this incident. Some might suggest that this happened due to ignorance on the part of construction workers, in which case we must reconsider points 2 and 3 above, which indicates negligence on the part of senior management who failed in their duty of care to their employees and the general public.

Had this UXO detonated at any point in its journey from the seabed/construction site to the landfill, the consequence could have been catastrophic and tragic. However, once again, business managers and supervisors at many levels managed to get away with criminal negligence due to the arbitrary behaviour of UXO and so the complacency continues.

The apparent willful ignorance shown towards UXO is often breathtaking and bewildering to those of us in the business of managing UXO risk. It is particularly bizarre when the dangers presented by these hazards are scoffed at by highly qualified engineers, geologists and others, including safety professionals, who apparently take the view that the laws of physics, and indeed the law in general, are somehow different on their patch.

Stay safe.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Happening right now.

There Is A Naval Mine Floating In The Waters Near Kitsap Naval Base In Washington (Updated)

There appears to be a contact-style naval mine floating in the waters near Bainbridge Island, Washington. This island is located directly across from Seattle and vessels have to navigate around either side of it to reach the sprawling Kitsap Naval Base. The base is home to one of the Navy's most important shipyards as it is capable of servicing even the largest supercarriers and is a major decommissioning site for retired nuclear powered vessels.   

 

 

download.jpeg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nasty! These "sea mines" have a habit of popping up out of nowhere it seems.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nah, it'll be safe.

It's old so it wont go off now.

Y'know, the explosives become less sensitive with time, so it will be harmless now.

Just tow it into deep water and sink it with a bullet or two - or even better, let it drift ashore and become a feature on a beach so that kids can play on it.

https://youtu.be/zHZF1FOY7g8

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On 7/9/2018 at 1:13 PM, Mark Ranson said:

Ah, yes, but the client says that landmines only "might" be a problem; they not 100% sure... And so I repeated myself and we went round in circles as every effort was made to come up with answers that would not offend the client and so I stood my ground until I was thanked for my input and told that they didn't need to bother me anymore.

Very worrying.  

Our Chinese friends have different ideas about acceptable risk, and loss of human life.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

28 minutes ago, Eodmatt said:

Nah, it'll be safe.

It's old so it wont go off now.

Y'know, the explosives become less sensitive with time, so it will be harmless now.

Just tow it into deep water and sink it with a bullet or two - or even better, let it drift ashore and become a feature on a beach so that kids can play on it.

https://youtu.be/zHZF1FOY7g8

Careful there, noob lurkers might actually think you are serious.

Then again, Darwin Awards tend to help clean the stupid out of the gene pool.

 

image_9787d605-5709-479d-81d8-ecad10baa75420171124_185917.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

(edited)

On 7/10/2018 at 4:44 PM, Eodmatt said:

One of the things that never fails to amaze me in the oil industry (and the building industry) is that HSE and safety blokes will have seizures over people not wearing Hi Viz gear, safety shoes, eye protection and so on. There is an almost religious fervour about compliance with such 'elf n safety attributes. Yet, mention the word Landmine or the acronym UXO, the same 'elf n safety perps will often turn a deaf ear and a Nelsonian eye.

Same for me.  One of the absolute best things I liked about living in China in the 1990s was that it was easy to go with another expat to their joint venture company site with nobody batting an eye.  You were a foreigner with another foreigner, so someone must have approved the visit, or you must be with the foreign partner company and who needs to try to keep track of all those pesky foreigners anyway?  Ha ha!

Anyway, one day I went with a guy to a steel mill that his company was installing.  You know, one of those with the massive bucket with lava inside that would pour out when ready.  Before we left my friend's office he gave me an OSHA hard hat, safety glasses and even some gloves and told me I really did need to wear these in the mill.  Out we go and I am standing in awe at being so close to one of those bubbling buckets of lava, asking questions and having a wonderful visit that I knew I would likely never have again in my life.  Up comes a local official of some sort and my friend told me to watch out for this guy because he is the safety manager and a royal pain in the axx.  He proceeded to rant and rave about my hard hat because it did not have a chin strap.  Ok, I don't know, is that normal?  My friend had a chin strap tucked up inside his hard hat and started to pull it out and he also assured the manager that we would go back shortly to make sure I acquired such a chin strap.

The thing was, the "safety" manager was standing in front of us in flip flop sandals, no safety glasses, and his "hard hat" was made from woven bamboo!  He did have a chin strap, though, and it was......wait for it......a shoestring!  You gotta love it!

Edited by Dan Warnick
  • Like 1
  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

(edited)

So do many western companies, unfortunately. 

I have had many an argument with HSE managers and engineers, who say things like: "well, there might be UXO here, but we'll take a calculated risk and do nothing".

When I ask them, the basis for their "calculated risk", i.e.what are the overwhelming parameters that allow you to negate the risk, there is always silence.

I related the story on the other website about the Australian engineer, who called me to confirm that a 40mm HE grenade that he had found was safe.

I asked him where it was and he said - under my bed in the hotel, in my back-pack.

I asked him if he had attended the (mandatory) UXO safety briefing - where they are told not only that UXO can be unsafe to touch, but that it was instant dismissal to collect them, for anyone on the project but me and my staff.

He replied in the affirmative.

I went to his room. He opened his bag. And there was a 40mm HE grenade, live and armed (you can tell by the rifling marks on the rotating band that it has been fired -  and you have to assume that the required number of subsequent rotations of the weapon have taken place for arming to have occurred).

I told him it was probably very dangerous.

He said it wasn't dangerous, that it was too old to be dangerous and that if it was going to go bang it would have done so by now, so it was safe as far as he was concerned. He said that he wanted to take it home to Australia as it would "look beaut polished up on his coffee table at home".

I told him that when it was detected in his baggage at the airport, he would be arrested and after appearing in court, would be very lucky not to do 2 years in jail, assuming it didn't explode when security examined it, in which case he would be doing 5 to 10 years in jail.

He said I was making a mountain out of a mole hill.

I told him that my patience was exhausted and that I was going to ask him to accompany me to the Project Directors office, where he would be dismissed for a gross breach of safety.

He then agreed to let me take the bloody thing on a sandbagged trolley out of the hotel to a place where it was destroyed with a small explosive charge.

Even after that he would still mutter in the bar about "people overreacting" and "little Hittlers" and "Bloody HSE". Not surprisingly he went on leave soon after and was not allowed back on site.

Edited by Eodmatt
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

10 minutes ago, Tom Kirkman said:

Careful there, noob lurkers might actually think you are serious.

Then again, Darwin Awards tend to help clean the stupid out of the gene pool.

 

image_9787d605-5709-479d-81d8-ecad10baa75420171124_185917.jpg

I dont see the problem, the guy with the saw is wearing hearing protection.....

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

5 minutes ago, Dan Warnick said:

The thing was, the "safety" manager was standing in front of us in flip flop sandals, no safety glasses, and his "hard hat" was made from woven bamboo!  He did have a chin strap, though, and it was......wait for it......a shoestring!  You gotta love it!

Heh heh, working in Vietnam was interesting for me:

So your project is on budget and ahead of schedule? Uh oh…
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140831220526-85843297-so-your-project-is-on-budget-and-ahead-of-schedule-uh-oh

A few years ago, I was at a fabrication yard in Vietnam. An offshore platform was being built, and the local workers were resistant to following API (American Petroleum Institute) specs. I'm an American, and the local supervisor proudly told me that “Vietnam beat America in war, and Vietnam way is better than American way.”

0?e=1541030400&v=beta&t=SSeuu0i-4Z2bj9bdpLZcoTnE0uRUC4JyIB-7Nf1_EqI

One of the local welders wanted to use sunglasses, rather than a welding helmet, because of the blazing tropical heat. It took some convincing, but eventually I succeeded in getting the welder to at least wear a proper welding helmet, by advising him that API is a set of international standards, not just American standards.

This was not an isolated incident for this project, but an ongoing pattern of the local workers following shortcuts, to do things quick and dirty with little regard for proper procedures and HSE.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Eodmatt said:

image_9787d605-5709-479d-81d8-ecad10baa75420171124_185917.jpg.8daa06b24dbbb4289556ff5b30ccdc8c.jpg

I dont see the problem, the guy with the saw is wearing hearing protection.....

< *facepalm* >

The complete lack of knee pads on the helper is so obvious.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

48 minutes ago, Eodmatt said:

Nah, it'll be safe.

It's old so it wont go off now.

Y'know, the explosives become less sensitive with time, so it will be harmless now.

Just tow it into deep water and sink it with a bullet or two - or even better, let it drift ashore and become a feature on a beach so that kids can play on it.

https://youtu.be/zHZF1FOY7g8

That explosion was amazing!  I didn't expect that myself.  Thanks for sharing.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites