The minefields around the Falkland Islands capital, Stanley, dating back to the South Atlantic conflict, have remained largely untouched for most of nearly 35 years, due to the restrictions in place around access to the minefields. Over this time, they have become a haven for Falkland’s wildlife.
The Falkland Islands Demining project has scheduled another planned demolition next Friday, 18 May and has set out preparations in a release.
As Mercopress have reported in a series of articles over the past eight years, the Falkland Islands are slowly being cleared of the landmines laid by Argentine forces during the 1982 war. Last week this process reached a key milestone when Goose Green settlement, the site of a key battle in late May 1982, was announced as being mine-free.
DYNASAFE Bactec recently returned to the Falkland Islands to continue demining operations, namely the completion of Phase 5a by March 18. “The break of around 10 weeks has allowed us all to recharge our batteries to finish these remaining tasks,” said Project Manager Julius Unsung.
The BACTEC demining team was welcomed back to the Falkland Islands with a reception last Tuesday evening, hosted by the recently arrived Governor Nigel Phillips at Government House.
Engineers have developed prototype technology that uses controlled burning to partially reveal landmines buried in peat soil. The researchers from Imperial College London have developed technology called O-Revealer that ignites peat, causing a smoldering fire that strips the upper layer of soil to reveal the landmines, making it easier to dispose of them.
The British government has spent £ 16.604.385 in demining operations in the Falkland Islands since 2009. The information was confirmed by the Foreign Office following a request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
The Falkland Islands hope that the complete clearance of the minefields, a legacy of the 1982 Argentine military invasion, can be finalized by the end of the decade and in the meantime it is actively considering post-clearance management of those sites that are released, particularly in the area surrounding the capital Stanley.
The Falkland Islands government has issued a Direction banning flying small unmanned aircraft over minefields. Contraveners can be liable on summary conviction to a fine of up to £ 2.500.
The Falklands and the efforts to clear minefields left by the Argentine invasion in 1982, which have become de facto nature reserves for penguins, will be aired on BBC Radio 4 under the heading of Listen to Exploding Penguins, presented by Peter Gibbs and produced by Matthew Teller. The presentation will be Tuesday 9 May at 15:30 UK time.