What is Unexploded Explosive Ordnance (UXO)?

Unexploded Explosive Ordnance (UXO) are military explosives that did not explode or function as intended. Some examples of UXO are bombs, rockets, grenades, artillery shells, flares, mortars, and hazardous residues that may remain after a partial or failed detonation. If touched or disturbed, UXO can cause injury or death.

Over the years, hundreds of locations across Canada have been used for military training  by members of the Canadian Armed Forces and foreign militaries to prepare for various conflicts. Wartime action along Canada’s coasts, and incidents involving ships, planes or vehicles carrying explosive ordnance have also created “legacy sites” where UXO may still remain today.

What UXO Looks Like


UXO lying in the grass.

UXO will not look like it did when it was first made or likely what most people have seen in movies or video games. It is likely to have been in the dirt or water for many years and will likely look old and corroded. It may be missing parts and could look like a piece of old pipe, an old car muffler, a pop can, or small pieces of corroded metal. It is usually partly exposed or completely buried.

UXO submerged in water.

UXO does not usually lay neatly on the ground, as it is often partially buried or underwater.  UXO can also move or be exposed over time. Freeze-thaw cycles, flooding, forest fires, and storms can uncover buried ordnance or move it from place to place.  It can also become more unstable and more dangerous over time. It doesn’t matter how old a UXO is, whether it’s 20 or 100 years old, it can still be very dangerous.

Corroded UXO.

A simple rule of thumb is to not touch or disturb  any rusted metal that you find on the ground or in the water. This is a good idea even if you are not in an area that was previously used for military training, as any unknown rusted metal can be hazardous.

Whether it is old or new, complete or in pieces, all UXO must be considered dangerous. Disturbing it can make it explode, causing death or injury.

If you see something that looks like UXO:

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
As soon as possible, report what you found by calling 9-1-1 or contacting local police.

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