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Canadian troops exposed to radiation in Kosovo
Friday, February 18, 2000
Army says it erred in radiation report
By Doug Beazley and Paul Cowan, (Edmonton Sun)
The army says it made a mistake in failing to tell Edmonton soldiers that radiation had been found in an area they patrolled.
Lt.-Col. Shane Brennan, commander of soldier in the 1st Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, said he's troubled by the fact Ottawa brass chose to brief reporters about the radiation exposure in Kosovo and neglected to tell him.
"Am I concerned? Yes, I'm concerned," said Brennan.
"Am I alarmed some great injustice has been done? No, not yet. I have to get more information to find out exactly where this material was (in relation to troop movements)."
Brennan said it could be another week before he knows whether any of his people were exposed to the radiation.
An Edmonton Garrison press spokesman said Brennan was left in the dark because of a kink in the chain of command that gave the information to the press first.
"Obviously the reason why is being looked into," said Capt. Mike Audette. "It's embarrassing."
Soldiers at Edmonton Garrison yesterday defended their decision to speak to The Sun - instead of their officers - about their radiation-exposure fears.
Members of A Company, 1st Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, were stunned earlier this week to learn on a Web site that they may have been exposed to radioactivity in Kosovo last year.
"The officers said we should have come to them first but the fact that no one told us about this shows that the system doesn't work," said one of the soldiers involved.
"They (the Department of National Defence) told journalists about this two weeks ago, which means they've had at least two weeks to come through to us with the information."
The soldiers found out on a DND Web site that Ottawa journalists had been told in a Feb. 3 briefing that two soldiers from the Royal Canadian Regiment had been exposed to low-level radioactivity on the outskirts of Glogovac in Kosovo.
The discovery was made at a bombed-out nickel mine regularly patrolled by A company, 120 strong, when they were stationed at Glogovac before Christmas.
Reform Party defence critic Art Hanger said the lapse proves the need for a public parliamentary inquiry into the health complaints of troops returned from Balkan duty.
Brennan said medical exams performed on his troops late last year showed no symptoms of radiation poisoning.
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