Gio Linh District, Quang Tri (25 May 2018) – NPA-RENEW’s EOD teams on Friday safely destroyed in place a 16-inch naval shell found at an acacia plantation in the DMZ, the former demilitarized zone during the war. The official weight of the munition, according to the U.S. military, was 1,900 pounds. The site at Hai Thai Commune is about 3km from Con Thien, the former U.S. Marine Corps combat base sometimes called “Hills of Angels.”
According to Hai Thai Commune’s military officer, Trang Rong Village has 57 families comprising 215 inhabitants who earn their living from growing acacia and rubber.
The EOD task was conducted after a local excavator driver called to report that he had unearthed a very big bomb after a group of local men searching for scrap metal asked him to help excavate the site.
On Wednesday, NPA-RENEW dispatched its EOD Team No. 3 to Trang Rong Village to investigate. They learned that people had planted acacia seedlings just one month ago at that very site. Exactly as the excavator operator had said, a heavy naval shell had been found and had been dug up from a depth of over two meters. The metal collectors abandoned the shell after removing its copper rotating band, which was extremely reckless decision. They are very lucky there was no explosion.
After checking the shell’s condition, National Technical Officer Bui Trong Hong and NPA Technical Field Manager Magnus Johansson agreed that there should be no attempt to move the shell. It would need to be disposed of in situ.
Logistical preparations were made on Thursday while the NPA-RENEW teams’ Military Liaison Officer for Gio Linh District worked with residents and authorities in Hai Thai Commune, to explain the danger to villagers living near the site and to enlist their agreement to evacuate during the operation.
On Friday morning around 9:30 a.m., nearly 100 people including elderly residents, children, and plantation workers were evacuated away from the danger area. When all was clear, NPA-RENEW technicians safely detonated the naval shell.
After four hours of suspended activity during the demolition operation, local villagers returned home and workers resumed their normal activities.
“We appreciate the NPA-RENEW staff for their dedication and professionalism in safely handling this huge munition,” said Hai Thai Commune Military Officer Nguyen Duy Son. “Local people here are grateful for the quick intervention of the NPA-RENEW teams,” he said. “They are reassured that they can go about their daily activities safely.”
About Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA): NPA is one of the leading organizations worldwide in Humanitarian Disarmament, including mine action, arms management and destruction, and humanitarian disarmament initiatives. NPA has worked in Vietnam since 2008 following the signing of an MOU with the government of Quang Tri Peoples Committee to support the development of Project RENEW’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) capacity. NPA’s operational footprint now covers all of Quang Tri and Thua Thien Hue Provinces, with an increase of assets to two Battle Area Clearance teams, one Non-Technical Survey team, four EOD teams, and 21 Technical Survey teams.
About Project RENEW: Founded in 2001, Project RENEW is a cooperative program between the government of Quang Tri Province and foreign non-governmental organizations dedicated to restoring the environment and neutralizing the effects of the war. Project RENEW carries out UXO Survey and Clearance, Victim Assistance and Risk Education with funding from the U.S. Department of State, Irish Aid and other foundations and individuals.