Fort Lee’s rich cultural history offers residents of the Tri-Cities and visitors a variety of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. Hiking, camping, sightseeing and hunting are only some of the reasons that we enjoy our surroundings and attract thousands of visitors annually.

While a reservoir of historical and natural beauty, Fort Lee has a vital role in our national defense since the 17th century, from the colonization of America, numerous Indian battles, the Revolutionary and Civil War to the current training and mobilization of millions of our Soldiers. To meet our national defense needs we conduct live-fire training and have in our past employed “dud producing” military munitions.

Participation in these historical and current events is not without a continuing legacy, unexploded ordnance, also called UXO or duds. Regardless of what you call them, you should know that these munitions are dangerous, and can explode if you disturb or handle them.

When UXO or duds are encountered by the public, these munitions present a potential hazard that can easily end in tragedy. Those living and working on and around Fort Lee need to learn the three Rs to protect themselves, their friends, families, and their neighbors: recognize, retreat and report.

Munitions come in a variety of sizes and shapes and may be found on land or in the water. Some are easy to recognize, others are not. Any munition or suspect munition encountered should be considered dangerous. Anyone who comes across or even suspects that they have encountered a munition, should not touch, move or disturb it. Recognizing an encounter with munitions is the most important step in reducing the risk of injury or death. Munitions present a risk to anyone in the vicinity and should never be touched, moved or disturbed.

Munitions come in many sizes, shapes and colors. Some look new, while others appear old and rusty. Some look like bullets or bombs, while others look like pointed pipes, soda cans, baseballs, or even old car mufflers.

Munitions and their components may contain high explosives, propellants, or pyrotechnics and in some cases, chemical agents. For centuries, nations have designed munitions to injure, maim, or kill people, and to destroy equipment in times of war. All munitions and suspect munitions, whether whole or in pieces, should be considered extremely dangerous.

Munitions may be:

• Found almost anywhere

• Clearly visible on the surface

• Partially or completely hidden by dirt or vegetation

• Exposed by erosion after heavy rains

• Difficult to recognize because they can be covered with rust and dirt

Although munitions can be encountered anywhere, they are most often encountered in areas the military once used or still uses for training or disposal, and where combat has occurred.

• On land, warning signs often mark these areas where munitions may be encountered.

A simple way to avoid an accident is to stay out of areas marked with warning signs of charted as restricted areas.

However, hiking or sightseeing on or near former battlegrounds or training areas can lead to an encounter with a munition that, depending on a person’s actions can prove deadly.

Munitions make potentially deadly souvenirs. They generally do not become safer with age – in fact many become more dangerous. Those who disturb a discovered munition for a keepsake or to better look at it, present a danger to themselves and those around them. Anyone who has or knows of a souvenir that is or may be a munition – even if it has been kept for years – needs to be aware that it can still be a real danger. They should call 911 and report it immediately.