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Evaluation of Soil Health in Response to Insensitive High Explosive (IHE) Exposure

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posted on 2020-12-07, 13:50 authored by Federica Persico
Soil provides multiple important functions, such as provision of food and raw materials, a platform for urban development and human wellbeing and a filtering and transforming media for water, nutrients, and carbon. All these characteristics work together to ensure that the system functions efficiently as a living system. This functionality translates to a clear definition of soil health. The use of traditional explosives in various training areas has led to the contamination of soil with recalcitrant and persistent hazardous chemicals which can render the sites unusable and no longer accessible due to accumulation of these harmful energetic residues over time, having a great effect on soil health. New insensitive munitions, which have been designed to detonate on command and not accidentally, have been developed and are currently use in military operations and in training areas. These munitions are filled with insensitive high explosive (IHE) formulations which comprise of more stable explosive compounds, such as 2,4-dinitroanisle (DNAN), 3-nitro-1,2,4-triazol-5-one (NTO) and 1,3,5-hexahydro-1,3,5-trinitrotriazine (RDX), whose behaviour and consequences in the environment in not yet fully understood. Therefore, a 155mm projectile filled with IHE has been detonated to investigate the spatial distribution and concentrations of explosive residues after a full-order detonation in a training area. The explosive concentrations found on site will be then replicated in a self-contained outdoor area to evaluate the consequences that the IHE has specifically on Soil Health. Leachate and plants will be analysed, plant growth monitored by comparison to several control beds and soil characteristics (e.g. pH, nutrients, oxygen), regularly tested. This will provide better understanding of the environmental consequences that IHE may have on soil health. In addition, results from this project will support future research in developing proactive risk assessment strategies for soil health.




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