Finding old unexploded WWII era bombs: preferred to defuse it in place or move it first?

Construction workers found a 500 pound WWII vintage American bomb in Taipei yesterday. Hardly uncommon in many parts of the world, I know, but what struck me as curious was that the Taiwan military loaded the bomb up into a truck and took it down a busy highway to a warehouse at least an hour’s drive away to study it and confirm its origin, before defusing.

On the other hand, a similar bomb was found in Hong Kong last week, but in this case the territory’s police appear to have used robots to burn off the explosives and defuse it in place. FWIW it looks like the Hong Kong bomb was much larger at >2,000 pounds.

Maybe the size of the bomb, its condition or the defusers’ technical capabilities come in to play here, but whatever the method, would it usually be preferred to leave it in place or move it before defusing?

As in real estate, the key words are Location, Location, and Location. It’s safer for the EOD guys to just blow it up in place. But there’s a lot of questions they need answered before they can make any decision. The first question I’d ask is has anyone seen Tripler post here recently, because EOD is what he does now for a living.

How much damage will happen if the bomb is exploded in place? Are there gas lines nearby? Buildings with lots of glass? Water/sewage mains? Electrical lines?

What kind of bomb is it? What is the condition of the bomb? How powerful is it? How is it fused? How certain are we the detonator will work after 65 years buried underground?

It all depends on whether it was diffused or not.

Its a bit old to make assumptions about the top of fuse, any fuse may be a hair trigger due to corrosion.

The Taipei bomb looks in good condition, the HK bomb looks heavily corroded.

A WW II bomb exploded in Deutchland in the last few years … so they can still explode… killed two. WW II Bombs still kill farmers in France ,a few each year.

It was loaded on to a truck in one piece, so it wasn’t diffused.

But it was probably defused. However, fusing is not the only consideration - the actual explosives can get unstable with age, too. They must have been very sure about the bomb to move it like that.

What i wonder as well is, its pretty hard to get a 30 year old nut and bolt apart never mind a bomb sunk in the ground for 60/70 years…i guess one consideration is can we get it apart is the fuse somewhere we can get at it?

I ought to watch “Danger: UXB” again. I have the series on one of my external HDs.

Question already answered, but I’ll add that the French Army still has a unit of sappers who do nothing but defuse or neutralize bombs and shells from World War I. Even so, a French farmer gets killed every year or so when a plow hits a shell in a field somewhere. Smithsonian magazine had an interesting article on this a few years back.

wiki article on the Iron Harvest.

From the Taipei bomb link:

:confused: WTF? Why move it to a warehouse? Why do they care about its origin? Why not just blow it up somewhere safe and be done with it?

I just watched it recently, so I guess that makes me an expert! :smiley:

It’s interesting to think that that expertise is still needed in the world - detailed knowledge of WWI and WWII ordinance. And if there was any historical accuracy to that show, some German bombs were made with anti-defusing mechanisms intended to blow up anyone attempting to disarm them.

Touchy job, in any event. Amazing that there is still the possibility for modern day “casualties” from those wars.

Exactly - thanks!

That was my question. I guess maybe one consideration is that there aren’t many unpopulated areas in Taiwan where they can just take stuff out and blow it up, so they might prefer to carefully defuse it after determining exactly what kind of bomb it is.

I will ping said cooly-cool bomb guy, but he’s not actively EODing for a living right now. Makes him sad and me happy, so there’s a ying/yang to it. Maybe Bombtek will chime in?
From every rant I’ve heard, this ordnance should have been BIPed. (Blown In Place) They made a dangerous decision they lucked out didn’t kill anyone.

Maybe that’s what happened to Tripler. :eek:

Much as he’d love an air of mystery, he’s simply at Kunsan AFB doing Ops Flight time in CE. He’s going to check in later, he had day trip plans going on today.

Dammit! I’d had typed up an answer this morning, and I don’t know why the SDMB ate it. Seriously, I had one submitted. What the hell?

Anyway. . .

EXACTLY. When I roll up on a UXO or IED, I ask, ‘What am I finding, and can the area withstand a high order detonation?’ If I’m in a farmer’s field, sorry pal, but three acres of your barley isn’t worth my Bomb Tech’s life. Downtown suburb? Then I’ll accept some risk.

In all Explosive Ordnance Disposal situations, there are two major steps: 1) Making sure its safe to dispose of, and 2) Actual Disposal. The first step involves the hard part of the work: evaluation of what I’ve got, how to ‘render it safe’ for transportation, and then the actual work on it. After I’ve done the ‘render safe procedure’ or “RSP,” it is insensitive enough as I can make it to take to a disposal site to make it permanently safe (usually through detonation or deflagration).

So, in pretty much typical calls, I’ll take the steps to make it safe enough to move to a disposal site, then I’ll get rid of the damn thing. Don’t ask me how I do it–I go to school for that, and I don’t want you nor third parties reading this thread learning how to make a better bomb.

Defused? Most likely. Or at least the fusing/firing system was rendered as inoperative as possible. I can also render the explosives themselves safe for transport. I have ‘liquid safing fluids’ for homemade explosives such as TATP that will make it safe to transport, but not permanently. Still gotta get rid of the original problem–the damned bomb.

Well, normally you would. However, in some cases, you need to preserve evidence for prosecution. In others, you have such a rarely preserved UXO that you need to study it to write RSP procedures on the fuzing or devices itself. Every IED or UXO is a chance to learn! When you have the chance to safely exploit it, ya do it! This is what I did on my last deployment. . .

UXOs and IEDs are a chess game. I aim to beat Gary Kasparov.

Weird seeing those shells left by the roadside like empty milk bottles.

If 5 mats won’t contain it, then use 20. Or 100 . . .

now that’s quite a contradiction in terms.

But real interesting stuff, Tripler.

Note to self: do not use cutting torch to find out what unknown, large, manufactured metal objects may be.

Bangkok Post: Explosion kills seven people