It appears questions and concerns about the beaches near CFB/ASU Petawawa have been resolved, as nobody attended a recent public meeting on the issue at the Best Western Pembroke Inn. A similar meeting two weeks ago on the base to discuss the four-year project to rid the beaches of Unexploded Explosive Ordnance (UXO) was attended by more than 50 people.
Officials from the Department of National Defence UXO and Legacy Sites Program were on hand to notify boaters and members of the public that the $5 million operation has been completed and the beaches along the Ottawa River are reopened to the public.
Although the public is able to use the beaches, there is still some risk as there is not a 100 per cent guarantee that all of the UXOs have been removed.
If anyone encounters something they believe could be a UXO, they should not touch it because it can explode if disturbed. The person should take note of the location and immediately call 911 or local police.
The DND UXO Legacy Sites Program officials were ready to make the same presentation at the meeting and provide an update about questions raised at the previous meeting.
“The first meeting was good news for people and it was followed by a flotilla to open the beaches, so this indicates people are happy the beaches are open,” said Ben Gignac, explosive safety officer on the project.
He believes news that the beaches are open has spread by word of mouth among users of the Ottawa River, so people in the area are aware they are permitted to use the beaches that had been closed for four years.
At the first meeting a local marina owner suggested a map of the area and where people are allowed to go be distributed more widely and as a follow-up, two additional sections including a map and information about the program and what to do if someone finds a UXO will be included soon in the pamphlet.
This information will be distributed to marinas and other locations where boaters and users of the beach can easily access it, noted Ken Desson, communications officer for the program.
“We are seriously committed to taking into consideration the information shared by the public,” he said.
The hazard zone covered by the project stretched approximately 6.5 kilometres from Black Point to Black Bear Beach along the north bank of the river next to the base. Landmarks in between include Angler Point, Wegner Point, Gust Point and Kiska Beach. The affected area comprised 27 hectares of beach and 167 hectares of river bottom. Through the clean-up effort, nearly 200 UXOs were discovered.
Although the project is complete, the group will remain involved with the public by providing up-to-date information through local marinas and other kiosks.
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