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Explosive Remnants: A Multifaceted Risk Problem
SWEDEC, Swedish Armed Forces, Sweden.
Swedish Defence University, Department of Military Studies, Science of Command and Control and Military Technology Division, Military Technology Applications Section.
2019 (English)Conference paper, Published paper (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In Sweden, defense cuts have forced the release of former military areas no longer needed for military purposes. These areas are often contaminated with explosive remnants from military activities, such as unexploded ordnance on former shooting ranges and surplus ammunition dumped in lakes and rivers. A complete elimination of such contamination is usually not possible; there will still be a residual risk after remediation.

Several government agencies and other stakeholders are involved and concerned with the risk management, but no single body has the overall responsibility. Liability is sometimes difficult to establish. For example, who is responsible if an accident occurs after remediation and release to a new landowner?

What was previously only an issue for the military has become a risk challenge to society in general.

Explosive remnants remediation leads to substantial costs – costs that increase rapidly with increased levels of remediation. With limited resources available, these should be allocated based on the risk reduction that they can provide. The questions "What is the acceptable residual risk from a societal perspective?" and “How safe is safe enough?” in relation to the new usage become important criteria for decision making.

During the 17th ISIEMS a research program for the development of a risk-based model for release of land and water contaminated with explosive remnants was presented. Since then, a lot of new knowledge has been generated and added to the model.

Still, however the question “How to combine and visualize a joint risk assessment to decision makers?” remains unanswered. Explosive remnants remediation involves the simultaneous management of different risk dimensions and many different stakeholders. Therefore, a multifaceted risk picture needs to be communicated to decision makers for prioritization of – often costly - risk reduction measures. This raises the question if a multifaceted problem requires a multitude of solutions or if standardized solutions can be used?

In the paper, the strengths and weaknesses of varying degrees of standardization, where different risk dimensions (environmental, safety and security) are combined into a common risk picture, are analyzed. The analysis shows that standardization creates a foundation for cooperation between stakeholders with divergent rationales. Furthermore, standardization is a prerequisite to communicate a complex risk situation to decision makers. A high degree of standardization, however, takes place at the expense of comparability with other societal risks and requires modifications of existing risk management tools. The conclusion is that standardization is not black and white; the level of standardization is critical and has to be adapted to the nature of the problem - otherwise the utility will be reduced - or even lost.

The situation with multifaceted risks is not unique for the handling of explosive remnants. Our modern society offers a lot of situations with complex risk pictures where different aspects and different stakeholders are involved in the managing of the same issue. Basic societal functions like electrical power supply and fresh water supply also involve antagonistic threats that must be handled together with both safety and environmental risks.

The resulting model may be used to visualize and communicate the overall risk picture to decision makers for complex risk situations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019.
Keywords [en]
explosive remnants, risk management, visualization, communication, standardization
National Category
Other Engineering and Technologies
Research subject
Systems science for defence and security
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:fhs:diva-8876OAI: oai:DiVA.org:fhs-8876DiVA, id: diva2:1380579
Conference
18th International Symposium for the Interaction of Munitions with Structures, October 21-25, 2019, Panama City Beach, FL, USA
Available from: 2019-12-19 Created: 2019-12-19 Last updated: 2020-04-15

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Vretblad, Bengt

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