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Cam Tuyen, Cam Lo (24 May 2013)

The safe destruction of a 16-inch naval shell the middle of forestation hills in Tan Quang Village on Wednesday by Project RENEW’s EOD team gave a sign of relief to the local villagers in the vicinity.

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Nguyen Thanh Toan, a local dealer who bought the acacia trees from Tan Quang villagers, called RENEW for help on Tuesday morning when his excavator encountered the unexploded ordnance while it was plowing through the land to create a pathway for access to the trees.

The 1.53 meter long 16 inch naval shell was lying half buried on the side of the pathway under creation. This is the biggest single projectile ever found by RENEW’s teams in the past years of operations in Quang Tri Province.

RENEW began to take action early Wednesday, as the discovery of the 900 kilogram projectile symbolizes a large sum on money for local scrap metal collectors, who often takes a risk to attempt to take apart these bombs on their own, which were one of the main causes for ERW accident, making time an essential factor. The EOD team immediately contacted the local authority including military commands in Cam Lo District and Cam Tuyen Commune and began to coordinate this detonation.

Due to its estimated devastation capacity of the projectile, three EOD teams of RENEW was mobilized in support for the demolition, which required lots of coordination, planning, preparation of protective work in order not to cause any damages to the trees, properties and houses of families residing nearby.

The detonation was ignited at 3 p.m. after all the local people had been evacuated to a safe place.The land was declared safe and small wisps of smoke could be seen escaping the blankets of sand that covered the fresh explosion.

” I am grateful for the help of project RENEW in making the land safe and making my plantation safe for my workers to cut down trees and earn a living on,” said Nguyen Thanh Toan who now looked relaxed.

“If the team hadn’t responded in time and somebody hadplayed with this projectile, causing it to explode, half of the village could have been destroyed,” said Team Leader Le Xuan Tung said after the successful demolition.

The task was finally completed with relaxation on everyone’s faces after a long jam packed day for EOD teams. The seamless coordination allowed for the task to be completed in a mere 36 hours of reporting, allowing people to get back to their daily duties as if nothing at all had happened. Upon self detonation, the projectile was capable of creating a crater 50 feet wide and 20 feet deep.

Launched in 2001, Project RENEW – Restoring the Environment and Neutralizing the Effects of the War – is a cooperative program between the government of Quang Tri Province and international non-governmental organizations dedicated to reducing and eliminating the threat from explosive remnants of war (ERW). Operating with major funding from Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA), Project RENEW embraces the major pillars of mine action including ERW Survey and Clearance, Risk Education, Victim Assistance, and Community Development. 

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