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Web Site Educates on Dangers of Unexploded Ordnance

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 19, 2001 – Last year, two young men ignored signs and went joyriding in an impact area at Camp Shelby, Miss. They got stuck in the mud and called a friend to winch them out.

As they waited, the two went exploring and found unexploded anti-tank rounds. They picked them up and started a tragedy.

To make a long story short, they passed their souvenirs to two boys. One of the rounds exploded, killing one boy and severely wounding the other.

DoD has hundreds of ranges. And on each range, there is unexploded ordnance. "That's just the nature of the beast," said Edwin Lowe, an Army safety director and the service's range safety program manager. "There is always ammunition that doesn't explode for whatever reason."

But just because ammo hasn't exploded does not mean it won't or that it's safe. The Army, as DoD's executive agent, is working to ensure the safety of service members, their families and those who live in near or around ranges, Lowe said.

The Army developed a restricted-access Web site to help safety managers and explosive ordnance disposal personnel pass the word about the dangers of unexploded ordnance, or UXO. The Web site is the Defense Environmental Information Exchange, www.denix.osd.mil. A visitor must have a military e- mail address to enter the site and passwords to access some of the areas within.

Officials limited access because they want safety people to present the information about UXO. "We want the correct message to get out consistently across the services," said Gary Abrisz, assistant for safety in the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Environment, Safety and Occupational Health. To ensure a consistent, accurate message, "we need professionals to deliver it," he said.

At the heart of the message are three words: Recognize, Retreat, Report. "We wanted this to be as recognizable to children as the fire safety campaign of 'stop, drop and roll,'" Lowe said. Range safety or EOD personnel would visit local schools, for example, and teach children to recognize unexploded ordnance, retreat from it and call a reporting number.

The Web site gives safety professionals the syllabus to follow as they give their presentations. It is open to all military services, and Lowe and Abrisz are working with their counterparts in the other services to spread the word. The two are also working to produce a video on the dangers of unexploded ordnance.

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