The area surrounding a Cold War nuclear fallout bunker in British Columbia is set to be remediated, according to a federal tender for the cleanup job.
The 61,000-square-foot, two-storey Nanaimo bunker is one of seven created under former prime minister John Diefenbaker in the 1960s when political tensions escalated with the former Soviet Union.
The fallout bunkers were created in smaller communities such as Nelson in B.C., and Carp in Ontario, as they were unlikely to be targeted during military attacks. The Carp location, which is the largest of all the Diefenbunkers, now functions as a military museum, where visitors can explore underground structures originally designed to house and protect Canada’s top politicians from Ottawa.
According to environmental assessment documents, the Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt Nanaimo Military Camp Bunker remediation will involve the removal of some 7,400 tonnes of contaminated soils. Excavation may involve contaminants such as ethylbenzene, naphthalene, phenanthrene, trichloroethylene, lead, hydrocarbon fraction F2, and copper. New soil will be brought in to fill up the area.
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The site is also located near habitat for the Western Painted Turtle, a species at risk.
Although the Nanaimo bunker was decommissioned in the 1990s, the Department of National Defence has not yet determined what it intends to do with the bunker structure itself following the soil remediation.
In 2013, the fallout bunker in Nelson, B.C., was transformed into a museum similar to the one in Carp, offering a real-life glimpse into the Cold War era.
Another underground shelter in Debert, Nova Scotia, has been turned into an escape room and entertainment venue.