CSIR expert participates in humanitarian demining research workshop

South Africa is sharing its expertise in humanitarian demining and a subject expert from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research recently attended a three day workshop in Arlington, Virginia in the US.
The latest CSIR newsletter says researcher Theo van Dyk attended the event at the invitation of the United States Department of Defence (DoD).
“This workshop is held annually and funded by the US DOD to review current research and development activities as well as to identify new requirements for future research,” he says.
More specifically, the workshop, which was by invitation only, was to identify requirements that will assist the US-funded programme in developing and improving unexploded ordnance (UXO) detection and clearance technologies.
Various demining organisations made submissions on their programmes with emphasis placed on equipment used for UXO and mine detection, and clearance operations. The information they provided ensured that the US programme focuses on technology development efforts that best meet the needs of the international demining community.
Van Dyk said that this initiative was launched 12 years ago by the US government.
Non-governmental organisations with technical expertise included representatives from industry and the military and made up a panel of experts, of which Van Dyk was part. “We had an opportunity to meet the affected people and discuss this problem,” he said. “Unexploded mines still pose a danger to these affected countries and are still a big problem around the world.”
Previously, Van Dyk travelled to Cambodia where he was commissioned to design a steam plant and to train local Khmer personnel on the use of the steam plant (a South African technological development) as well as the required harvesting process to defuse unexploded landmines.
The training is now yielding results as the fatality rate caused by exploding mines has dropped significantly. Thirty years of conflict have left a legacy of hundreds of thousands of landmines and UXOs across war-torn Cambodia, including aircraft bombs, cluster bombs, heavy medium and light artillery rounds and a whole array of grenades.
Van Dyk and his group helped to investigate a blast accident that occurred in Mozambique a year ago. They have also trained members of the South African Police Service’s explosive disposal team that is currently participating in Operation Mandume in Angola.