A relic of the Cold War in the Arctic (audio post)

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(Apologies for the poor quality of the recording and the fact that the recording is cut short but the team have had problems with the satellite telephone signal due to the remote nature of their location.)

Hi, it’s Stephen here with the latest Arctic Voice blog entry. Here we are at 70 degrees 7 minutes north, 130 degrees forty minutes west. We’re just to the west of Novak point at the top end of the Tuktoyaktuk Peninsula just about to go into Russell Inlet, and it is 2310 local time.

A lot has happened since we last reported in. We’ve come through Atkinson, the old DEWline station, where we encountered quite a lot of interesting activity. (Note: The DEWline — Distant Early Warning line — was a series of radar stations built above the Arctic Circle during the early years of the Cold War.) They are refurbishing the land, removing all the contaminated soil and asbestos. The soil actually is boxed up and taken by barge all the way down the Mackenzie River to be burnt in Edmonton. It’s got a lot of diesel oil in it and the DEWline station will be razed to the ground, nothing more to be seen.

In the deep water harbour that’s there we saw the drilling rig which is being serviced and brought ready for drilling in the Mackenzie Delta for gas, which will happen in the not too distant future. There’s a lot of activity round there, an awful lot of air activity. We met a chap called Obe on the beach, an Inuit man, and he said it’s been terribly windy for the last three seasons, and we’ve certainly experienced very strong Northerly winds.

It’s an amazing landscape. The sky and the sea seem to merge into each other, and the land sort of mirages in between the two. You’re never quite certain what you’re looking at until you’re almost upon it. The light bends everything. We met a very large ice margin, which actually looks almost like a polar ice cap, but managed to pick our way through the pack ice to our present position, which is a delightful spot just up from a sandy beach, arctic meadow and caribou – there’s a huge great big herd of caribou about a mile away… (telephone signal ends at this point)

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