A Risk-Increasing Safety Strategy?

Evaluating the traditional risk mitigating strategy in dealing with dumped ammunition and explosive remnants of war


  • Lieutenant Colonel Geir Petter Novik Norwegian Defence Research Establishment
  • Associate professor Morten Sommer University of Stavanger
  • Professor Eirik Bjorheim Abrahamsen


In Norway, hundreds of thousands of tonnes of explosive remnants of war remain in nature. It has always been recognized that the ordnance could represent a certain explosive risk if disturbed, and that some of the constituents in the ammunition could be harmful to the environment, but, even so, a tacit assumption by decision makers is that, if left alone, the ammunition will slowly become harmless over time. Some argue, however, that the risks are in fact increasing, not diminishing, with time, and that our current risk management strategy could prove to accelerate the risk rather than mitigate it. This article outlines some of the critical issues facing our current risk reduction strategy, as well as raising some concern as to whether the current strategy could be outdated and in need of revision. This study builds up a picture of how the strategy has evolved over time, and how new knowledge and broader risk perspectives can provide further insights into how this strategy could be revised. The conclusion of this investigation is that, on the basis of improved risk assessments highlighting the complex risk picture and the strength of knowledge concept, there is an urgent need to revise the current risk mitigating strategy.

Author Biographies

Lieutenant Colonel Geir Petter Novik, Norwegian Defence Research Establishment

Lieutenant Colonel Geir Petter Novik is a Senior Staff Officer at the Norwegian Ministry of Defence, currently assigned to the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment. His assignments include duty as MoDs senior representative for defence exports and material management within the Norwegian defence sector; Senior Ammunition Inspector for the Army; Instructor at the Norwegian Joint Ammunition and EOD School, as well as numerous years as an Ammunition Technical officer and EOD/IEDD. LTC Novik earned his Master of Science at NORD University with a specialization in societal security and terrorism studies. He is currently attending a doctoral programme in Science and Technology at the University of Stavanger with a specialization in risk management and societal safety particularly related to Unexploded Ordnance and Explosive Remnants of War.

Associate professor Morten Sommer, University of Stavanger

Morten Sommer ia an associate professor in societal safety and emergancy management at the University of Stavanger. He has several years of experiance with research, teaching and supervision in safety and emergancy preparedness. 

Professor Eirik Bjorheim Abrahamsen

Eirik Bjorheim Abrahamsen is a professor in risk management at the University of Stavanger. He has a broad engeneering background, including industrial economics, prodject management and offshore technology, specializing in safety.