National Projects

Examples of National Projects

Columboola, Queensland

Date: 2010 to 2012

Client: Australian Department of Defence (Contract manager: GHD)


Figure 1: Secondary Enclosure that Housed the TDC-60 with support fittings
Figure 2: TDC 60 Destruction Chamber Heat Exchanger and Carbon Filters
Figure 3: Uncovering 100lb mustard filledaerial bomb


Figure 4: Munitions Leak, Seal and Packing Operations


During World War 2, large quantities of chemical warfare (CW) agents were imported from the United Kingdom and the United States as an insurance against a chemical warfare attack by the Japanese who were known to have chemical stocks in Rabaul and had used CW extensively in China. These CW stocks were stored at a number of locations throughout Australia, with UK stocks controlled by the Australian Armed Forces and US stocks held by US Services along with conventional ammunition. One such location was the former US Army Ammunition Depot at Columboola, near Miles in SW Queensland.


The Columboola Depot operated for some 2-3 yearswith in excess of 700,000 chemical munitions of various natures and types stockpiled at the site. These were brought into the site by rail and truck from Brisbane, then re-packed for tropical conditions, then issued to other depots in North Queensland as a strategic stockpile intended to provide a quick retaliatory response by air, should the Japanese make the first strike.


In 2009, a due diligence study by others unearthed 144 sulphur (H) mustard filled munitions in burial sites. In July 2010, through competitive tendering, Defence awarded Milsearch a contract to examine and appraise available destruction technologies and then to undertake the careful destruction of these munitions using technology and methods approved by the United Nations Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, The Hague, Netherlands. Works commenced on site in earnest in August 2010 and the last of the munitions was successfully destroyed in June 2011 usingCH2MHill’s TDC-60 Transportable Detonation Chamber imported from the United States by Milsearch.


Variations to the primary task of munitions destruction saw Milsearch engaged in a supplementary geophysical works program to survey and investigate the remainder of the site, which covers an area of approximately 730 hectares. This supplementary works program involved the near complete de-vegetation, geophysical survey (using a combination of both magnetic and electro-magnetic technologies) and finally an intrusive works investigation phase to locate all metallic content on the Site which were potentially other CW munitions.


Investigation of geophysical anomalies called for many thousands of targets to be rigorously investigated by former military EOD teams. Working in central Queensland in full protective chemical outfits and controlled breathing sets presented significant risks of heat stress. Thorough training, close supervision and close monitoring of weather conditions ensured no cases of heat stress arose.


To supplement Milsearch’s own CW staff, Milsearch sub-contracted EOD trained personnel from the Edgecliff Chemical and Biological Centre of the United States Army. Working harmoniously together on the Columboola site for the first time since World War 2, former service personnel from Australia and the United States completed the Project by October 2012.


Albany Harbor, Western Australia

Date: 2011

Client: Grange Resources Ltd (Contract manager: JFA Consultants Pty Ltd)

Partner: EGS Survey


Figure 1: Preparing the Dual Geometrics Magnetometer Array for towing
Figure 2: The Geometrics G882 TVG dual mag array with DGPS beacon above


Won in competitive bidding, the task was initially to conduct a 5% sampling Magnetic Gradiometer Survey prior to dredging of a new shipping approach channel in King George Sound as well as additional berthing areasfor the Port of Albany Authority. These infrastructure improvements are required to allow efficient shipment of magnetite ore.


Dating back to well before World War 1, coastal artillery batteries had conducted gunnery practice into the waters of King George Sound. During and after World War 2, these same waters had hosted sea-dumping of unwanted ammunition from the nearby Ardath Ammunition Depot. Furthermore, ammunition had been lost overboard during ammunitioning and de-ammunitioning activities at the berths in the Port. These factors necessitated the conduct of a rigorous towed marine magnetic survey for ferrous UXO and dumped ammunition.


Through a review of available historical material, Milsearch had assisted the Client in defining the target criteria. To win the tendered task, Milsearch teamed with specialist international marine survey company EGS Survey (Australia) Pty Ltd (EGS). Under sub-contract from Milsearch, EGS provided specialist personnel, survey equipment, materials and expertise from its base in Perth, Western Australia. Milsearch provided overall project management and the services of its Chief Geophysicist who conducted QA monitoring of all aspects, particularly EGS’s data interpretation process.


Having participated in tendering for underwater UXO surveys in Albany Harbour in 2006 and 2007, Milsearch recognised the stringent positioning requirements for towed marine surveys when divers will be expected to quickly re-acquirethen investigate potential UXO anomalies. Time wasted in looking for imprecisely surveyed targets can be very expensive and generateadditional risk to divers. Prior to commencing the tendered task, the Client increased the survey scope from a percentage sampling survey to 100% area coverage of the dredging footprint.


The Milsearch/EGS Team then conducted a thorough and precise survey involving data collection using a Geometrics G882 Transverse Gradiometer (TVG) which mounts dual cesium magnetometers. This array was integrated with high precision GPS positioning and Ultra Short Base Line Acoustic positioning of the array relative to the towing vessel. Using a locally chartered vessel of convenience, the survey swath width and sensor flying height was carefully selected to ensure that all ferrous anomalies between 15 kgs and up to 75 kgs buried to a maximum depth below seabed of 3m would be located.


A total of 528 ferrous anomalies were interpreted, with 209modeled as falling within the required target criteria. To meet a subsequent client request, the Milsearch Chief Geophysicist selected approximately 20% for priority diver investigation by others.


Results of what was found are unavailable but the Milsearch/EGS team were commended on the very accurate level of anomaly positioning which no doubt contributed to improved efficiency of the diver program.



Date: August 2004 to March 2013
Client: Peet Greenvale Ltd




Task: Milsearch was engaged to conduct remediations of the 300 ha former RANAD Somerton Ammunition Depot which is being converted to housing and school sites. Located at Greenvale, on the shores of the Greenvale Reservoir, the site was previously developed as an Army Ammunition Depot during WW2 and had since been in constant use for this purpose until closure as a Navy ammunition depot in the 1990’s. Extensive residual contamination existed from disposal processes including explosive demolition and pit burning. Munitions and small arms ammunition ejected from these processes in radial patterns had contaminated some 30 ha in several locations, all of which had to be removed down to individual .303 calibre rifle bullets.


Working closely with the EPA appointed Site Auditor and 3rd party Technical Advisors provided by GHD, Milsearch conducted an extensive review of geophysical data previously collected by Defence consultants as part of the asset disposal process. Consultancy work included an analysis of past aerial photography, a site hazard analysis, and the conduct of remediation technology trials to identify the optimum mix of detection technologies. A phased and costed approach for progressive remediation of the Site by development stages was implemented over the following eight years. Some 80% of the site has now successfully been converted to housing with one school constructed within the original Proof and Testing site. Final stages of remediation are scheduled for 2013.





Date: July 2007-December 2009
Client: Australian Department of Defence (managed through GHD)


Figure 1: Geophysical Surveys to Delineate Burial Pits
Figure 2: Exhumation of Burial Pits
Figure 3: Removing Inert Anti-Submarine Mortars from Burial Pits


Figure 4: Sorting Screened Metallic Material for Live Items
Figure 5: Removal of Potentially Toxic Destroyed Munitions
Figure 6: De-militarizing Incompletely Burnt White Phosphorus Flares in Preparation for Recycling



Won through competitive tender, Milsearch was contracted to conduct remediation of munitions burial sites over an 8 hectare area of the Marrangaroo Army Depot near Lithgow, NSW. The site was used during World War 2 by the RAAF as an ammunition depot proof and disposal ground.


The principal task was to remove the contents of some 36 identified burial trenches to eliminate any potential for heavy metal leachates to enter local aquifers. Works included geophysical re-surveying and careful delineation of the burial pits, followed by exhumation of large volumes of ammunition residues remaining from burning and destruction programs.


Exhumed materials were then screened and sortedfor potential live munitions. In the process, large quantities of white phosphorous filled marine flares were dug up and together with large tonnages of other materials, carefully de-militarized by controlled cuttingand certified free of hazardous or explosive content. Certified metallic residues were then transferred to the metals re-cycling industry.


Excavated soil residues were then stabilized and heavy metal movement in those soils arrested by mixing the soils in a pug-mill with stabilizers, followed by burial in purpose designed capped facilities on site.


Extensively complicating the process was the existence of phosgene and mustard filled World War 2 munitions within the exhumed pit contents, remainders from the wartime role of the Site as the Air Force’s wholesale storage depot for Chemical Weapons. Working closely with specialist elements of Defence, including the Defence Scientific and Technology Organization (DSTO) and the Incident Response Regiment (IRR), as well as the Local Emergency Management Organization (LEMO) and Community Representatives, Milsearch conducted wide ranging risk assessments and put in place sophisticated risk mitigating strategies and equipment to contain any releases of phosgene and mustard contaminants into the environment. Planning and conduct also involved the local Marrangaroo community who were kept informed of developments and for whom evacuation plans were developed in the event of an unintended release of toxic gas during the excavation process. The incident free task was completed within budget and to the full satisfaction of Defence and with the appreciation of the local Lithgow Community.





Date: June 2009-July 2012 and Ongoing
Clients: LandCorp, and Oakajee Port and Rail Pty Ltd


Figure 1:F3 Detector Transect Sampling Recorded Paths on LandCorp Site, Oakajee
Figure 2: Diver equipped with Ebinger Magnetometer MAGNEX 130B marine Magnetometer


Won through competitive tendering initially in 2009 and then again in 2011, Milsearch is assisting in the development of the multi-million dollar Oakajee Port and Rail project, which will see the vast iron ore reserves of the Murchison Ranges opened up for export activity.


During World War II, coastal areas of mid-western Western Australia were used extensively for armour, artillery, infantry and air weapons training to prepare for a possible Japanese invasion. Records confirm that the area was used for artillery training, and possibly by the RAAF for offshore gunnery and bombing practice. Army records confirm that items of Land Service UXO have been found in the general area.


The West Australian Government’s LandCorp commenced UXO elements of the project by awarding Milsearch a contract to conduct a 5% Field Validation Surveyto determine the possible presence of high explosive impact areas within the large expanse of coastal farming land in the project site. On successful completion of the LandCorp assignment, Milsearch was engaged by the Oakajee Port and Rail Corporation, a commercial joint venture between iron ore developers and Japanese interests.


Between 2009 and 2012 a total of over 3,200ha has been carefully and systematically investigated eliminating concerns for UXO. This area includes coastal dune and swale country, former agricultural land destined for rail delivery and port handling of massive ore tonnages, as well as extensive rail alignment connecting the Oakajee port area to existing iron ore rail lines many kilometers west in the Murchison Range area.


The land investigation works required careful programming to fit in with farmers planting and cropping schedules followed by lose liaison with individual landowners livestock and access gate control requirements.


In 2011 Milsearch teamed with Dermody Diving and Marine Servicesof Brisbane to investigate offshore potential UXO anomalies identified during an earlier towed magnetometer sampling survey by others. Future developments call for a dredged approach channel and protected berthing facilities on.


Optimal sea state conditions are infrequent in this extremely exposed Indian Ocean locality. Using diver carried analog magnetometers and positioned on the seabed by diver carried GPS systems, over 24 ferrous anomalies were identified at depths up to 20m, several being identified as potential obstacles to future dredging but otherwise harmless. Close in-shore diver investigations including through the surf-line were also conducted for desalination plant intakes and outfall pipe construction.


Additional land survey areas some requiring vegetation mulchingand additional beach and underwater anomaly investigations areplanned for the future.





Date: November 2009-February 2010
Client: Hansons Quarries Ltd




Task: Following previous unsuccessful survey attempts by its competitors, Milsearch was engaged to conduct geophysical surveys for UXO on some 30 ha of future basalt quarry land at Marbury Park, on Melbourne’s south western outskirts. Extensive areas near Werribee had been used since the Boer War for field artillery training and subsequently during and into the 1970’s, for air-to-ground gunnery, rocketry and for live bombing by the RAAF. Army units also used these areas during the WW2 period for artillery and infantry mortar training.


Working through extremely rough terrain over basalt boulders hidden in long grass, Milsearch developed towed sled techniques utilizing dual Geonics EM61 High Power electromagnetic detectors to detect UXO in magneically hostile geology which prevented the deployment of magnetometers normally used to locate deep ferrous munitions. 100% coverage of the ground was achieved with confidence by employing 10cm accurate RTK GPS integrated with Topcon automated steering systems fitted to the 4WD tow tractor. Despite numerous delays caused by physical damage in the harsh conditions, Milsearch persevered to complete the task, locating a number of 25 pdr artillery projectiles in the process.




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