Has the use of white phosphorus ammunition in Regionfelt Østlandet caused environmental or health effects? – results from the period 2015–2019

FFI-Report 2021

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21/00284

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978-82-464-3327-1

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7.2 MB

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Tove Engen Karsrud Arnt Magne Johnsen
This report describes monitoring of the use of white phosphorus ammunition in Regionfelt Østlandet (RØ) during the period 2015–2019. The Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI) conducts the monitoring on commission from The Norwegian Defence Estates Agency (NDEA). The results from the sampling in 2019 are presented and assessed, and an overview of the results obtained during the period is provided. RØ is the only firing range in Norway where the use of white phosphorus ammunition is allowed. The impact area at Store Haraåsen is used for training with artillery shells and mortars containing white phosphorus. The test and verification area called PFA-sletta is also used as an impact area, mainly for quality and safety tests and for demolition training of such ammunition. During the period 2015–2019 582 kilos of white phosphorus was released in RØ. The annual permit is 3500 kilos. The maximum concentration of white phosphorus in soil samples from craters at Store Haraåsen was 1430 mg/kg. Such a level is expected shortly after firing. White phosphorus decomposes with time, and an accumulation of white phosphorus in the impact areas is unlikely. The soil at Store Haraåsen and PFA-sletta is mostly dry with good drainage, factors that will promote decomposition of white phosphorus. However, in one of the craters that originates from 2013, the concentration of white phosphorus has been higher. In this crater it was measured 5150 mg white phosphorus/kg in 2015, and the concentration did not lower until 2019 to 91 mg/kg. The prolonged high concentration in this crater may be caused by conditions during the detonation of the shell, which may have resulted in more residues of white phosphorus in the ground. White phosphorus has never been detected in water samples localized nearby the PFA test area. In 2017, traces of white phosphorus were detected in three locations downstream of Store Haraåsen, and a concentration of 6.1 ng white phosphorus/L was detected in the sampling point closest to the impact area at Store Haraåsen. This may have been caused by transport of white phosphorus due to heavy rainfalls after firing. Except from this incident white phosphorus has not been detected in water samples downstream of Store Haraåsen. The reported concentrations of white phosphorus in impact areas in RØ are considered not to represent any health risks to humans or animals that may reside shorter periods in the area. Military personnel cleaning the area must be aware of the risk of exposure to white phosphorus and should use protective equipment.

About publication

Report number

21/00284

ISBN

978-82-464-3327-1

Format

PDF-document

Size

7.2 MB

Download publication

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