Water Recreation

If you are boating, swimming or engaging in other water-based activities on DND UXO legacy sites, then there is a possibility you could encounter UXO.

What is Underwater UXO?

There are hundreds of confirmed and potential UXO sites across Canada. Canada’s underwater UXO legacy sites can be off the coasts or in inland lakes and rivers.

Munitions are known to be located underwater as a result of: being fired into the water during military training activities; being dumped at sea (a practice no longer performed by Canada); or resulting from a shipwreck or plane crash.

Determining the level of risk in underwater areas is not always easy. The sites may have been plotted over fifty years ago using methods that are crude by today’s standards. Tides, wave action and ice may also have caused the UXO to migrate.

Recognizing UXO

UXO does not look like it did when it was first made. It will have been in the dirt or water for many years so it will likely look old and corroded. It may be missing parts so it could look like a piece of old pipe, an old car muffler, a pop can, or just small pieces of rusty metal. It is usually not lying neatly on the ground or underwater – it is usually partly or completely buried. Learn more about what UXO looks like.

Recognizing UXO Sites

The body of water that you are using may contain UXO if there are:

  • reports in the media or other places in the community about the potential for UXO;
  • former or active military bases or training grounds in the area;
  • warning signs (NOTE: many sites do not have signs – “no sign” does not mean “no danger”);
  • reports of previous UXO-related work or incidents; or
  • metal fins or oddly shaped metal pieces present at the site.

Advice for Individuals

  • All water users should stay away from areas that have UXO warning signs or that are not open to the public.
  • Boaters should not enter restricted areas that are indicated on charts or are marked with buoys as danger zones.
  • Divers should pay attention to warnings about shipwrecks and other underwater sites that are known to contain UXO.

If you encounter something that could be UXO under the water, close to a river, near a lake or on a beach by the coast:

1. Don't touch it!
If disturbed, UXO can explode, causing death or injury.

2. Note the location and leave the area
Remember where you saw the object. Go back the same way you came.

3. Call 9-1-1 or local police
If you are on or near an inland body of water call 9-1-1 or the local police. If you are at sea, contact the Coast Guard.