An Unexploded Ordnance Project (UXO) Clearance Project for Madeline Lake Ranges is currently underway and will continue throughout the summer season.
Several Band Member UXO Technicians are employed for this project. The Project has been undertaken with OKIB control and oversight to ensure that clearance work is being performed to a standard acceptable to OKIB; and that we understand costs associated with that level of safety.
Negotiations are ongoing with the Department of National Defence and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada. Through this work, our goal is to eventually return these lands to a safe state for future generations of OKIB members to use and enjoy.
History of UXO on OKIB Reserve Lands
Between 1943 and 1990, the Department of National Defence (DND) conducted military training activity that included live-firing of explosive ordnance (such as artillery and mortars) on two ranges located partly within Okanagan Indian Reserve No. 1, the Goose Lake Range and the Glenemma Range.
The permits issued by OKIB authorizing DND to use the reserve. Currently, an unknown quantity of UXO and munitions scrap remains on the reserve.
UXO poses a serious risk because it can explode if disturbed, resulting in injury or death. In certain circumstances, UXO and munitions scrap may also cause environmental contamination.
What is being done about UXO?
DND has made and continues to make some efforts to clear UXO from the reserve; to that end, there is a memorandum of understanding which provides funding to support the UXO Liaison, Don Louis, to work with DND and OKIB on the survey and clearance work on Goose Lake and Glenemma Ranges.
The duties of the Liaison Office include:
- Ensure lines of communications are open between OKIB’s and DND Project Manager;
- Communicate the DND’s project requirements to the OKIB’s authorities;
- Assist with coordinating visits, meetings and presentations between the OKIB and DND and the Department of Construction Canada (DCC)
- Ensure that the Contractor is aware of the OKIB’s operations or activities that may impact the work of either party;
- Provide all notices to, and coordinate access with, potentially affected OKIB members prior to commencement of site work;
- Conduct visits during site work by DND’s Contractors to review their progress;
- Meet with DND\DCC staff and accompany these individuals during visits to the OKIB.
- Report any concerns or issues to the OKIB and the DND Project Manager;
- Maintain regular communication with DND.
- Participate in the dangers of UXO awareness program, which included the OKIB School, School district 22, OKIB community events, and neighboring community events.
To date, nine Band members have also been sponsored by DND to take the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service’s UXO Technician I course thereby building capacity in this arena in the community.
Contact any member of the Lands department including UXO at (250) 542-3444 or at the Public Works and Housing offices at 11505 Westside Road, Vernon, BC V1H 2A9
What does UXO looks like?
UXO stands for unexploded explosive ordnance - old bombs that did not explode or function as intended. UXO does not look like it did when it was first made. It will have been in the dirt or water for many years so it will likely look old and corroded. It may be missing parts so it could look like a piece of old pipe, an old car muffler, a pop can, or just small pieces of corroded metal. It is usually not lying neatly on the ground or underwater – it is usually partly exposed or completely buried. Many people think that UXO are not dangerous because they have been there for many decades. In fact, an UXO can become more unstable and more dangerous over time.
UXO can also move or be exposed over time. For example, freeze-thaw cycles, flooding and storms can uncover buried ordnance or move it from place to place. Just because no one has seen UXO in an area for many decades does not mean that it isn’t there now.
A good and simple rule of thumb is to not touch or disturb corroded old metal that you find on the ground or in the water. This is a good idea even if you are not in an area that was used for military purposes.
No matter whether it is new or old, complete or in pieces, all UXO must be considered dangerous. Disturbing it can make it explode, causing death or injury.
If you see something that looks like UXO:
1. Don't touch it! If disturbed, UXO can explode, causing death or injury.
2. Note the location and leave the area Remember where you saw the object. Go back the same way you came.
3. Call 9-1-1 or local police As soon as possible, report what you found by calling 9-1-1 or contacting local police.