International Operation Name: Operation CONTACT
International Mission Name: Operation CONTACT
Mandating Organization: Government of Canada
Region Name: Europe
Mission Date: 1 July 1999 - 31 August 1999
Canadian Forces (CF) Information (CONTACT)
Canadian Task Force Name Mission Statement: With respect to each contaminated site, identify each contaminant including an assessment of the health hazards associated with each contaminant at the level or levels identified.
CF Mission/Operation Notes: Operation Contact was initiated by DCDS Staff after a historical review showed that existing scientific data were not adequate to resolve concerns of Canadian Forces (CF) personnel who feared they had been exposed to chemical contamination while serving in Croatia. The issue, which had originally been raised in 1994 by personnel in ROTO 2 (2 PPCLI), centred on possible health effects from contact with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and bauxite thought to have been used to fill sandbags during Operation HARMONY.
The investigation focused on the potential impact of the environment on the soldier, rather than the impact of the CF on the environment (e.g. environmental remediation for fuel spills etc).
The Op Contact report was provided to the Croatia Board of Inquiry (BOI). The Croatia BOI was called in August 1999 to investigate whether Canadian soldiers who served as peacekeepers in Croatia under Operation HARMONY, over a span of three years were exposed to environmental toxins. The terms of reference did not, however, limit the Board to this singular issue.
Based on the evidence presented, the BOI were unable to conclude with certainty that exposure to the "red dirt" of southern Croatia and other suspected contaminants were the specific cause of the illnesses.
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