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Putting deadly devices on show to save lives

By Cpl. David Thomas
First published in
SFOR Informer #101, November 22, 2000

Mrkonjic Grad - From anti-personnel to anti-tank, all kind of mines can be found here. Many are on exhibition for others to see. Signs, warnings not to step on these deadly items go with a collection which keeps on growing every day.
The Banja Luka British EOD detachment in Mrkonjic Grad recently chose to elaborate this exhibition to explain its daily work, and inform others about the dangers . Local people come once a month to visit the camp.
"When they come, we try to give them the best information about mines," said Cpl. David Maylan, from the first platoon of the 58th FDSQN and responsible for demining in the surroundings of the camp.
All around the area, with a four-man team, he leads the demining operations in order to prevent deaths or other lethal injuries.
"Everyone knows the generic stuff, but not everyone knows if it is a mortar or a rocket. It's not only that kind of stuff, you've got ammo boxes, too. That's where you need the EOD team because its a sign that a battle has gone on there at some time. You get a lot of it down towards Route Smudge, and also in Manjaca," said Malyan.
Consequently, each day the exhibition grows by one piece or more.
"The last one was a BM-21 rocket from a Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS). When we found this the other day, it had been in the ground for at least four or five years," continued Malyan.
Even if the collection never stops, with the winter coming the danger doesn't stop growing either. Snow is a good ally of the mines.
"In the winter, the ground freezes but mines don't. If water gets in, it will freeze in the explosives. The dangerous thing is that certain mines start breaking down after being in the ground so long," said Malyan. "Our biggest fear, here, is crystallisation because when the component of an explosive start breaking down, they start crystallising and turn into pure nitro-glycerine . As the years go by the ammunition in the ground are getting older and have begun to crystallise."
During the four next months, the British detachment from the EOD team in Mrkonjic Grad will keep on working to prevent increasing incidents.
"Just because there's a blanket of snow, the mines will still be active They don't close down for the winter," stressed Malyan.

Related link:
Engineering - Mines and De-mining
Nations of SFOR: UK