LETHBRIDGE, AB. - While we may have thought it was a situation unique to Southern Alberta, it turns out to be a problem across the province. With every incident, the media issues words of caution from law enforcement agencies. Unfortunately, those cautions are frequently ignored, creating a dangerous situation for those involved.
The discovery of deteriorated explosives is happening with such a degree of frequency that the RCMP are issuing a warning about the dangers of handling these items.
There's a myriad of origins fo the items. Grandpa may have been a soldier in the war and may have surreptitiously brought home a piece of ordnance as a souvenir from his exploits. The items get stored in a basement or garage and may not be found until decades later.
RCMP say the other scenario involves the fact that Alberta farmers and ranchers have, historically, had easy access to dynamite and detonators. Because of these rules, there is a large, but unquantified, amount of degraded dynamite in our province today.
Every year, many Albertans report finding dynamite, detonators and live military shells stored, or in some cases forgotten, on their properties.
Within the last few years, there have been several cases in Lethbridge, Coaldale and surrounding area where ordnance was found in a home that was being cleaned out, a garage or along a farm fence line.
In the last year alone, police recovered 115 detonators and have dealt with 10 files involving detonators and dynamite. In addition, the RCMP Explosives Disposal Unit recovered a total of four hand grenades within one week in Devon, Red Deer and Didsbury.
There is a protocol on how to - and how Not to - handle these types of finds. The Alberta RCMP Explosives Disposal Unit urges citizens who find such items on their property to be cautious and immediately report it to their local detachment.
While a resident may think they are being a good citizen by turning the ordnance in to a police station - that is not the case. It is very dangerous to handle the item and put it in your vehicle, where is could explode during transportation. Also, once the item is dropped off at the police station, the station must be evacuated, impeding the work of officers who are on the job.
Do NOT transport the item from one place to another.
The Alberta RCMP Explosives Disposal Unit urges citizens who find such items on their property to be cautious and immediately report it to their local detachment.
“It is so important for people to understand how dangerous these materials can be no matter how much time has passed since they were stored, says Cpl. Paul Zanon. “Two weeks ago, we recovered two hand grenades in Devon with the assistance of the Canadian Armed Forces and one of them was still active despite being encased in concrete some 60 years ago. We can`t stress it enough. If you find such materials on your property, do not touch or move them. Immediately report it to police.”
The RCMP and City Police departments are equipped to dispose of degraded dynamite and all other types of explosives, and will do so at no cost. When notifying police of found ordnance, residents, should not move or touch the explosive device. If possible, take photos and send to police along with the age of the device, its location and the amount present.
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