Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Home Early

As I mentioned, I came home early. The reality is I got sick. I caught it from a coworker. Grr.

We were in far Northern Ontario as part of a clean-up operation. There are a number of cold war era satellite stations to guard us from the Russians all over our country. They used some chemicals that were thought to be okay then, but are now known to be bad. There were PCBs predominantly - in the transformer oils, in the capacitor fluids, and even in paint. There was also lead and mercury in the paint, asbestos in the insulation, and other things. We're there to oversee the environmental, health & safety of the clean-up, basically.

Currently, we're doing baseline monitoring. To determine the current levels of dust, PCBs, and other things, before work even starts. It was my coworker, a Ministry official, and some local First Nations: a housekeeper, a "monitor" (who reports our activities to the local First Nations group and looks out for the health & safety of the First Nations employees), the custodian (for lack of a better word - he kept the generator running and maintained a supply of firewood for our woodstove), and a bear monitor. Yes, we must employ a bear monitor. The First Nations employees lived in a barracks next door to us. My coworker, the Ministry official, and I lived in a 3 bedroom cabin without running water. At least there was an outhouse. And an oven.

It was ... interesting. Really! We didn't know what to expect, so I anticipated a mould-filled cabin with no outhouse. The cabin was clean. The outhouse was clean. The only downside is that it took 5 days for the Ministry official to figure out how to connect the fridge. He assumed it wasn't working, but once he read the manual (on day 5), he realized he just had to flip some switch to get it to work. In the meantime, we could NOT store our food outside, so we had it in coolers. Some of it went bad, but we also had lots of dehydrated foods (Side Kicks) and canned foods (soups), too.

In case you didn't know, putting food outside would attract bears. And these aren't just any bears - they're polar bears.


  1. Wow, that experience must have been TOTALLY surreal!!!

    OK so it was interesting but I'm still glad you're back. :-)

  2. yikes, don't attract the polar bears... they are cute.. but....!