NORTH OKANAGAN – Two detonations Thursday were another step in a long process to clear an area northwest of Vernon of unexploded explosive ordinances (UXO’s).
“In the last couple of weeks we’ve pulled out probably a ton and a half of either munitions or scrap from munitions,” says Don Louis, the Okanagan Indian Band liaison to the Department of National Defence. “The area is still littered.”
The Madeline Lake Range site is Okanagan Indian Band land that was used by the military for activities like troop maneuvers, shooting ranges and live fire exercise starting in the early 1900s.
“Because records weren’t kept that far back, it is a long process to find all of these items and to clear them,” says Department of National Defence project manager, Lisa Hampson.
Thursday four mortars were detonated. Two were sand filled and the other two high explosive mortars.
“Anything that is suspected to be potentially live munition[s] is blown in place with the sand bags around it,” says Hampson.
The denotations went smoothly but there is still a lot more work to be done before the area is cleared.
“We’ve done a good two years of work here and we’ve [only] done a small portion of it,” says Louis.
“It is going to be a ten to 15 year probably, several hundred million dollar process to clear the site and even then you never get everything,” says Hampson. “You’ll never get every scrap of metal out of the ground.”
As work continues the message to the public is: if you didn’t drop it, don’t pick it up.
Anyone who spots a UXO is asked to call authorities.