This week, the topic came up in German news of German states now wanting the German federal government to pay up and cover bomb disposal....which has typically been mostly a cost for each German state.
For an American, it's an odd topic....that you rarely if ever come across in the United States.
Over the years I spent in the Kaiserslatuern area, I can remember at least two episodes where WW II bombs were discovered while digging, and a massive episode unfolded.
Typically, Huns the back-hoe operator will come to a metallic like item in the ground. There's three scenarios here. First, he's hoping that it's just some old junk that got buried during WW II....from wreckage or garbage. Second, he's hoping it's a water pipe that no one knows about but that's rarely the case because Germans are so particular about drawing their maps and knowing about all pipes in a town. The third scenario is that it's a leftover bomb from WW II. Huns will usually back off upon this discover and call the fire department.
In an hour....a crew will respond and view the bomb from a distance. They usually have one guy who has studied all the bombs and know the various types. A plan will be devised at this point. It's possible....a bit of digging by some dedicated men will occur and ensure the bomb is in full view. A schedule is drawn up.....to detonate the bomb....which becomes a major news item in less than twenty-four hours.
The authorities will evacuate everything within the "zone", and blow the bomb up. From most of these stories I've observed.....things tend to go as planned and rarely are buildings around the bomb damaged. The cost of an operation like this? Well....it's hard to say. I'm sure that the fire department charges for their services, and the bomb experts have a cost attached to them. I would imagine each single episode costs a minimum of a million Euro by the end.
The argument over a state issue or a federal issue? The truth is that the state gets it's revenue mostly by property tax and some money handed down from the federal government (via income taxes and the VAT). State government spending generally have to stay within a certain limit, and if you had a sudden surge of twice as many bombs found as usual.....they'd have to cut state funds from someone to make up for the issue. I could see the state government guys making a pretty clear argument on this. The federal guys? The problem is that you can't forecast very clearly each year how many bombs will be found, and that's something that bean-counters hate.
How many bombs are still sitting there in an active state? Anyone can take a guess. There could be ten thousand of them. You just don't know.