Falklands : Falklands Public Meeting on Mines Held in FIDF Club
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 01.05.2010 (Article Archived on 15.05.2010)
Approximately 50 members of the public attended an informative public meeting at the FIDF Club at 1900hrs on Tuesday, 27 April 2010 held by the BACTEC demining team.
Photo (c) J. Brock (FINN)
Members of the demining team from BACTEC gave an informative presentation to the general public on Tuesday evening
PUBLIC MEETING ON MINES HELD AT FIDF CLUB
By J. Brock (FINN)
Approximately 50 members of the public attended an informative public meeting at the FIDF Club at 1900hrs on Tuesday, 27 April 2010 held by the BACTEC demining team. Members of the team presenting were Robin Swanson, DPO Programming Manager, Guy Marot, DPO Technical Adviser, Roger Gagen, Project Manager BACTEC and Kev Bryant, OPS Manager BCTEC. Robin Swanson introduced members of the team.
Each speaker took it in turn to explain what de-miners do and the strategy of demining as well as how they and the public gain confidence by being transparent in all that they did.
Guy Marot went into the history of mine clearance since the 1982 conflict with Argentina when he said that after the battle of Goose Green Argentine conscripts began mine clearance at Goose Green and that other mines throughout the Falklands had been cleared by members of EOD. Actual clearance had been postponed after a spate of injuries. EOD then only dispatched mines as they became visible. He went on to say that as a result of the 1997 Ottawa Convention all landmines had to be cleared from the Falklands.
Roger Gagen explained about the recent mine clearance with the arrival in November of the Zimbabwean de-miners. He continued with explaining the various teams and their make-up including trauma trained medics and supervisors.
Guy Marot continued with a presentation about how the mines were laid and about information available for each minefield cleared. The most information was available at the Sapper Hill site with a rough sketch of where they were laid. However, with Goose Green and Fox Bay there was little to no information available. Only the site plan was available for the Surf Bay minefield. He went on to describe how the minefields were laid out and the methods used in placing the mines in the ground.
Kev Bryant described the conditions of all the minefields that were cleared and said that Surf Bay contained not only sand but mud, peat and rock. He also described the difficulties in detecting the mines and why certain areas needed to be hand excavated. There was also a description of what ordinance was found in each minefield, with the Fox Bay one containing unexploded ordinance instead of mines.
The presentation concluded with an explanation about quality control and assurance. Dick Sawle MLA, fresh from the public meeting at the Town Hall, asked about confidence that all the mines had been cleared. Guy Marot said that there was a 100% guarantee and Phyl Middleton asked about Surf Bay with an explanation that there were 16 mines yet to be discovered at Surf Bay and that an armoured excavator was being used to find them. There was every confidence that the mines would be found.
When asked whether the mine clearance would continue, Robin Swanson said that he didn’t think there would be mine clearance during the next Austral Summer but that all of the mines had to be cleared if the Ottawa Convention was to be complied with. He went on to say that this mine clearance exercise cleared 5% of the mines that had been laid in the Falklands. He also said that the FCO had a special fund from which the money for this exercise was funded and that DFID funds meant for poorer countries were not used.