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.
Engineering - Mines and
Nations of SFOR: UK