skip to navigation skip to content skip to footer

Categories for Unexploded (UXO) Ordnance Potential – Categorisation Criteria, Warnings and Advice


Background

The Department of Defence identifies and maintains a record of areas affected, or suspected of being affected, by Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) that may influence the nature of land use.

Item of Unexploded Ordnance

In order to assist those with interests in land and those performing land management activities, Defence categorises the potential presence of UXO as follows:

• Substantial
• Slight
• Remote
• Other
• Sea Dumping Area

A sixth category, Information, is included where records indicate that the area was used for Defence purposes of a type not associated with producing UXO.

Where ocean areas have been used for military activities, they are categorised in accordance with the abovementioned categories. Ocean areas that have been used for historical sea-dumping of waste material which may include explosive ordnance are categorised separately as sea-dumping areas. Further information on UXO in the Marine Environment can be found in the UXO in the Marine Environment page.

Important Note

These categories help highlight where there is a potential for UXO to exist. They do not describe the potential hazards associated with UXO as different types of UXO have different potential hazards associated with them. These categories are based on historical research and do not take into account the intended usage of the land. Therefore, these categories are not in themselves a risk rating, and in order to fully understand the risk that the potential presence of UXO creates, a full UXO Risk Assessment will be necessary.


Defence provides information and advice about the potential presence of UXO to the appropriate State/Territory and/or Local authorities and recommends that they take action to:

  1. Notify affected landowners that their property is in a potential UXO affected area and ensure that they receive the relevant UXO warning and advice as issued by Defence as appropriate.
  2. Publicise the relevant authority’s requirements for UXO investigation and remediation, in respect to land use and development.

Land parcels within categorised areas retain the categorisation unless they have been appropriately investigated or remediated. Whilst Defence endeavours to keep the information as accurate as possible, it is not possible for Defence to record changes relating to remediation at the individual Lot/Plan level. Advice as to the current conditions and local requirements should be referred to the appropriate State/Territory and/or Local authorities.

Standard UXO Warning

Commonwealth and Allied Defence Forces used many areas throughout Australia, during and after World War II, for encampments, field training, live firing of weapons and other military activities. A possibility exists that dangerous items of UXO may still be found on this site. If you should find a suspicious item that may be a UXO, do not touch or disturb it. The potential for injury is dramatically increased if UXO is disturbed. Contact the police and they will arrange for military experts to attend and appropriately dispose of the item.


Substantial

Sites categorised as being Substantial will have a confirmed history of military activities that often results in numerous residual hazardous munitions, components or constituents. There will be a history of numerous UXO finds or heavy residual evidence such as fragmentation.

Areas likely to be assessed as Substantial include high explosive impact areas, target areas within wider manoeuvre training areas, areas of heavy explosive ordnance disposal and burials.

Advice: Whilst current land usage may continue without specific UXO search or remediation, Defence recommends that specialist advice is obtained. A detailed UXO Risk Assessment and UXO Management Plan should be developed as necessary.

Defence recommends that any development, land usage re-zoning proposals or other significant changes in proposed activities for land parcels classified as Substantial should only proceed once an appropriate UXO Risk Assessment has been conducted by a suitable specialist and mitigations implemented to address the risks identified. Such mitigations could typically include one or more of the following as identified in the UXO Risk Assessment:

  • Field investigations to refine hazard areas.
  • Remediation to remove or neutralise hazards (remediation provides the highest level of confidence that potential risks have been reduced to tolerable levels); and/or
  • A formal UXO Management Plan and/or UXO risks included in the construction site safety management plans.

Slight

Sites categorised as being Slight will have a confirmed history of military activities that often results in numerous residual hazardous munitions, components or constituents; but where confirmed UXO affected areas cannot be defined. Alternatively, sites categorised as Slight may have a confirmed history of military activities of a type that sometimes results in occasional residual UXO. UXO or explosive ordnance fragments / components may have occasionally been recovered from the site.

Sites likely to be assessed as Slight include identified buffer zones around impact areas, field firing areas used for manoeuvre training, ranges used for non-high explosive practices and areas where historical disposal and burial activities may have occurred.

Advice: Whilst current land use may continue without further UXO investigation or remediation, Defence recommends that consideration is given to obtaining specialist advice and undertaking a detailed UXO Risk Assessment and developing a UXO Management Plan as necessary.

Defence recommends that any development, land usage re-zoning proposals or other significant changes in proposed activities for land parcels classified as Slight are preceded by an appropriate UXO Risk Assessment. A project- or activity-specific UXO Management Plan may be considered for ongoing activities and the possibility of encountering munitions should be adequately addressed in activity plans (e.g. construction site safety management plans).

Remote

Sites categorised as Remote may have records which confirm that the area was used for military purposes, however the activity is of a nature that makes it unlikely that UXO would exist. UXO or explosive ordnance fragments / components have not been recovered from the site. Alternatively, areas that have been subject to Defence validated UXO remediation may also be categorised as Remote.

Advice: All land usage and development, within these areas, may continue without further UXO investigation or remediation. If at any time UXO or related material is identified, consideration should be given to seeking specialist advice.

Other

Defence records confirm that the area was used for military training but do not confirm that the site was used for live firing. UXO or explosive ordnance fragments / components have not been recovered from the site. Defence opinion is that it would be inappropriate to assess as either slight, substantial or remote.

Advice: These sites have been included for general information purposes only. Defence makes no recommendations in regards to this category.

Information

Defence records confirm that the area was used for routine military activity, but of a type not associated with producing UXO. Defence assessment is that it would be inappropriate to assess as having UXO potential.

Advice: These sites have been included for general information purposes only. Defence makes no recommendations in regards to this category.

Sea Dumping Area

These areas have been identified as having been used for historical sea-dumping of waste material which may include explosive ordnance. These sites are generally marked on charts and published in Notice to Mariners along with the appropriate advice.

Advice: There are no restrictions to surface maritime activities in these areas. Any activity that will disturb the seabed such as anchoring, trawling and dredging are prohibited in these areas.