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Sand pits mess may be army's
Yellowknife resident 'disgusted' by rank trash, including discarded pills, honey-bucket

Kevin Allerston
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Yellowknife resident says she is disgusted by the mess she believes was left behind by the Canadian Armed Forces after Exercise Arctic Ram, headquartered in Yellowknife in February.

NNSL photo/graphic

Leona Massan was disgusted to find what she believes the Canadian Forces left behind at the Sand Pits after Exercise Arctic Ram, a Northern training exercise headquartered at the Sand Pits, in February and March. She is seen here on Monday holding medication near a honey-bucket containing waste. - Kevin Allerston/NNSL photo

The military exercise drew 1,500 personnel to the area during the 17-day operation.

Leona Massan said she was walking her dogs on Sunday and decided to take a closer look at some of the mess she had noticed in the area once the snow started to melt. She said she found tent-spikes left in the ground, paper, medication, holes which looked like they were used for human waste and even a honey-bucket.

"They didn't clean it out or try to treat it, they just left it there for everybody to see and it smells. It's disgusting," Massan said.

"They should leave the land the way it was when they first came here. We shouldn't have to be picking up their garbage. That's the bottom line. They should come back here and pick up their own damned garbage - every twist-tie, every piece of paper. Because that's a nice place to take your dogs," said Massan, who has been taking her dogs to the Sand Pits to run free for the last six years.

"There's kids that go there and use their motorbikes, what if they were to find them and take them," said Massan of the medication. "I don't know what they are, maybe they are just Aspirin. But still ... "

On one bag of pills the label is completely worn-off, another shows a prescription written out to a Canadian Forces corporal. "What if my dogs would have ate those damned pills?"

She said she is particularly worried about what she believes is a tent pole that was left nearby a motorcycle ramp, which she removed from the area.

"It was sticking out of the ground and I was thinking 'what if the kids went on their motorbike and they fell on this piece of metal? It would have pierced them.'"

She said the mess left by the military shows a lack of respect for the land and people of the North.

"I would hate to see what's going on way up North in places where they've been if they've been leaving this sort of thing behind," Massan said.

After coming to Yellowknifer, Massan went to the Joint Task Force North headquarters and spoke with Lt. Paul Pendergast.

"It probably was left from our people, so I took it from her and we will dispose of it and I told her we would send somebody out to take a look at the area she described, said Pendergast. "And if it's our stuff we will clean it up."

"We do have to remember that that's a public area too, and everything that's there isn't necessarily left by us," he said.

"We always strive to have the minimum impact possible on the environment whenever we operate and part of that is to do a clean-up and inspection after an operation, and that was done this time," said Pendergast. "But due to the conditions in February it's possible that some things were missed because of being covered by snow."

"It was part of the plan to go back in the spring and summer and do subsequent cleanups and inspections, that was planned for ... Some of that has been done and some of it was planned to occur in the next month," Pendergast said.

He told Yellowknifer yesterday that a personnel would be out at the Sand Pits early this morning to clean up.

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