Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is UXO?
  2. What is a UXO legacy site?
  3. How will I know if something might be UXO?
  4. What should I do if I see something that could be UXO?
  5. If I walk or ride my bike over UXO, what could happen?
  6. What should I do if my friends are playing with something that may be UXO?
  7. What if we have an old bomb or other ordnance at home?
  8. Can I handle or move UXO gently?
  9. If an old bomb has been moved before, can it be safely moved again?
  10. Is a bomb safe if it does not have its fuze?
  11. People have been using some sites for many years without any problems. Why should they be concerned now?
  12. If in the past DND cleared away the UXO from a site, is it safe now?
  13. How many legacy sites are there in Canada?
  14. How does the UXO and Legacy Sites Program decide which legacy sites to work on?

1. What is UXO?

UXO stands for unexploded explosive ordnance. UXO are military ordnance (bombs, grenades, etc) that were dropped, fired or otherwise used but that failed to function as designed. UXO should always be considered dangerous.

2. What is a UXO legacy site?

A UXO legacy site is any property that was owned, leased or used by DND but no longer resides within DND's inventory and for which there may exist a potential UXO risk associated with past Departmental activities.

3. How will I know if something might be UXO?

UXO come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Determining if something is UXO can be very difficult, even for an expert. An UXO may look like a bomb or like pieces of corroded metal. Seldom will UXO appear to be what it looked like when it was first produced. Because it’s been in the soil or water for many years it will likely look old and be corroded.

If you are on or near a legacy site, it is safest not to touch or disturb any items you find on the ground or in the water that you believe may be UXO. It is a good idea to understand what UXO may look like and what to do if you encounter something you suspect could be UXO.

4. What should I do if I see something that could be UXO?

Don't touch it! If it is disturbed, UXO can cause injury or death.

Note the location of the object and leave the area, going back the same way you came in.

Call 9-1-1 or local police as soon as possible to report what you found.

5. If I walk or ride my bike over UXO, what could happen?

By touching, manipulating, kicking and/or driving over UXO, the item could explode and could cause damage, injury and / or fatalities.

6. What should I do if my friends are playing with something that may be UXO?

Tell your friends to leave it alone and gently place it on the ground. Don’t touch it, move it, or throw things at it. Leave the area the same way you came in. Report what you found by calling 9-1-1 or contacting local police.

7. What if we have an old bomb or other ordnance at home?

Sometimes people keep bombs, shells, grenades and other munitions as souvenirs or trophies. Someone who served in the military might have brought it home, or someone might have found it. It might be on display on a table or shelf, or stored in a box.

No matter where it came from or where it is, it should be considered very dangerous. Only trained explosive experts can tell the difference between something that is “live” and could explode, and something that is safe. On occasions our experts have been called to locations where a “souvenir” UXO could have caused injury or fatalities had it exploded.

If you have military munitions at home, contact your local police or 9-1-1. They will arrange to have it safely taken away with no consequences to you. Do not just throw munitions away because they could put others at risk of being hurt.

8. Can I handle or move UXO gently?

No. Some UXO can be set-off by very little or even no movement. Only trained experts must be relied upon to deal with UXO.

9. If an old bomb has been moved before, can it be safely moved again?

UXO can become less safe over time. Even if it didn’t explode the first time it was moved, it could explode the next time it is touched.

10. Is UXO safe if it does not have its fuze?

Even without a fuze, UXO still represent a danger to the public.

11. People have been living on and/or accessing UXO legacy sites for many years without any problems. Why should they be concerned now?

UXO contain material that was designed to explode. This means that it still represents a safety hazard and could explode. In fact, some UXO becomes increasingly unstable the longer it is lying in soil or water.

The freezing and thawing of the ground and water, flooding and storms can cause UXO to migrate to the surface, move or otherwise be exposed. Because no one has seen UXO in an area for many years does not necessarily mean that UXO are not present.

12. If in the past DND cleared UXO from a site, is it safe now?

The technology used to find and remove UXO has its limits. Over time, buried bombs may move or be exposed. There is always some risk remaining even after a site has been cleared.

13. How many UXO legacy sites are there in Canada?

There are potentially over 800 UXO legacy sites across Canada. These sites are located both on land and in Canadian waters. DND reviews, prioritizes and manages the sites in an effort to ensure public safety where UXO present a high risk to the public.

14. How does the UXO and Legacy Sites Program decide which legacy sites to work on?

The decision to work on a legacy site is based on the level of risk to the public and considers the following factors:

  • the quantity, condition and type of UXO present;
  • the site’s characteristics;
  • local population demographics;
  • the likelihood of someone coming into contact with UXO; and
  • the likelihood of that contact resulting in an incident and/or accident.