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WMD: War chemicals located in Alberta, Nova Scotia and NFLD Coasts PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Sunday, 23 January 2005 04:15
WMD: War chemicals located in Alberta, Nova Scotia and NFLD Coasts

POSE 'POTENTIAL RISK' TO HUMANS, ENVIRONMENT

The project was flagged in the environment commissioner audit released last fall, noting in 1984 Transport Canada raised concerns about off-shore disposal of mustard gas and other warfare agents.  "However, after considering the issue, national defence did not consider action necessary at that time," the audit report stated.

By MARIA MCCLINTOCK, OTTAWA BUREAU

NATIONAL DEFENCE has discovered six sites across Canada where chemical and biological warfare agents, such as mustard gas, have been buried and "pose a potential risk to human health and/or the environment," documents obtained by Sun Media reveal. The four land and two marine locations have been identified by DND's Warfare Agent Disposal project, and documents obtained under Access to Information show federal government officials are worried about the level of risk, and are deciding how to carry out a clean-up.

The feds earmarked $14 million in 2002 so the WAD team could begin the long process of going through historical records to determine where munitions, nuclear waste and mustard gas are buried or ended up on the ocean off Nova Scotia and Newfoundland following World War II.

Their action was prompted by a Cape Breton antique dealer who came across several marine maps detailing where a series of unexploded munitions were dumped in the Atlantic Ocean. That led to the discovery of four land sites.

Three of the four land sites are at Alberta's CFB Suffield, about 250 km southeast of Calgary. The fourth is at an industrial park which DND refuses to name.

In a February 2004 background briefing note for Defence Minister Bill Graham, the WAD project group suggests it could cost millions to clean up the six sites.

The document further states: "The current budget for the WAD Project is based on a limited number of sites being investigated ... Sites determined to pose a risk to human health and or the environment will be submitted as stand-alone projects for funding ... until these assessments are completed, it is difficult what future costs will be associated with mitigating these risks."

BRIEFING NOTE

The same concerns are raised in a September 2004 briefing note to Graham.

The WAD group has been alerted to a number of other sites, both on land and at sea, which have been given a clean bill of health.

The WAD project is expected to end by 2008.

The project was flagged in the environment commissioner audit released last fall, noting in 1984 Transport Canada raised concerns about off-shore disposal of mustard gas and other warfare agents.

"However, after considering the issue, national defence did not consider action necessary at that time," the audit report stated.

WAD project manager Dan Godbout insisted there's no immediate danger to humans but admitted it's not known what the long-term risks -- if any -- could be.

Godbout also couldn't specify the quantities in question.

"We don't have the full extent as to the full amount," he said. "We suspect minor amounts."

Last Updated on Sunday, 23 January 2005 04:15
 

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