Grenades on Tavistock Road – joint statement from Devon and Cornwall Police and Plymouth City Council

Plymouth City Council has suspended excavation work for the Derriford Transport Scheme following the discovery of more white phosphorus grenades on Tavistock Road today.

Ten World War Two grenades were found on Tuesday afternoon and controlled detonations were carried out by the Royal Navy’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team. A further 14 grenades were found and removed today.

Public safety and the safety of workers on site has to be our primary concern but we recognise the huge impact that closing one of the city’s arterial routes has on the community and the travelling public.

With the potential for more of these devices to be found the decision has been made to suspend all excavation work until we agree the best steps to identify any further devices and manage their safe removal to allow these essential works to continue.

The Council will agree a plan jointly with its contractor, the police, explosive ordnance experts and partners, including the emergency services.

We appreciate the public’s patience during these unexpected incidents and will issue an update as soon as possible. In the meantime arrangements are being made to secure and monitor the site and under no circumstances must anyone attempt to access the excavated area.

Anthony Payne, Strategic Director for Place, Plymouth City Council
Chief Superintendent Andy Boulting, Plymouth Commander, Devon and Cornwall Police



A survey was carried out as part of the pre-construction assessments, which identified the potential for finding unexploded ordnance in the area.

This information fed into the construction plans and risk assessments, with appropriate control and mitigation measures put in place. Workers are routinely briefed on the procedures to follow if they discover any potential hazards.

A ground penetrating radar survey was also carried out but this would not normally detect non-metallic objects or smaller objects buried deep underground. We have been advised by specialists that this type of device is ‘virtually undetectable’.

Following the discovery of phosphorus grenades on Tuesday a specialist explosive ordnance disposal company was commissioned and one of its engineers was on site today to scan areas being worked on and advise on any issues that might arise.