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Within the boundaries of former military bases in the United States, unexploded ordnance is causing increasing concern. Although civilian fatalities from UXO explosions on U.S. soil have been rare, the risk of such accidents could increase as more closed bases are transferred from military to civilian control. The authors evaluate the technical soundness of existing methods for assessing risks of UXO at military installations. To conduct the review, the authors identified the different purposes that UXO risk-assessment methods must serve. They surveyed risk-assessment literature to establish the criteria that a sound method should satisfy. These criteria were peer-reviewed by leading experts in risk assessment and modified accordingly. The authors then reviewed available written information about existing UXO risk-assessment methods, tested accompanying software when available, and discussed the methods with their developers. Finally, they surveyed other selected federal agencies that manage risks to determine whether these agencies might have risk-assessment methods that could be applied to UXO sites. The study concludes that none of the available UXO risk-assessment methods sufficiently satisfies the criteria for technical soundness or meets all the needs for UXO risk assessment. It recommends a path forward for UXO risk assessment, based on available methods from other agencies and lessons learned from previous efforts to develop UXO risk-assessment tools.

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The research described in this report was sponsored by the United States Army and performed within the RAND Arroyo Center.

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