THE CANADIAN PRESS -- OTTAWA - The cleanup of two Canadian Forces bases in Germany that closed after the Cold War cost Canada millions of dollars, new documents show.
The federal government has paid the Germans $6 million in claims for environmental damage to former Canadian Forces Bases Lahr and Baden-Soellingen.
But a soldier who served at one of the bases says some of the damages were probably caused long before Canadian troops moved in.
The Canadian Forces maintained the two, full-fledged air and army bases in what was once West Germany during the Cold War. The bases were closed in the early 1990s after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the reunification of East and West Germany.
A summary of payments obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act does not say what environmental damages were claimed by the German government.
But Lt.-Col. Norbert Cyr, who was the public-affairs officer at CFB Lahr, said the payments were for gasoline, jet fuel and oil that leaked.
Cyr says the Germans combed the bases before Canadian troops pulled out.
"There was a huge inventory done. They even inventoried the species of grasses, the types of insects," he said.
"I'm not kidding. Because they found out we had like two species of butterflies that were no longer known to exist in that part of southern Germany. Because the base was a protected space that wasn't sprayed with chemicals, the butterflies thrived.
"All that to say, they found areas where there were underground pipelines that dated back to the Second World War that had leaked. And so these damages were assessed."
The Germans even tried to get Canada to foot the bill to clean up soil that had been contaminated by an old German cannery, he said.
"There was a zone of contamination around the new hospital that dated back probably hundreds of years to a cannery ... and the soil was contaminated with heavy metals and organic materials, like animal hides and fur," Cry said.
"And so when they dug that up and found that, they were going to bill us for that. Because we were the occupiers of the land and I guess it's some weird legislation."
Canada and Germany spent years haggling over the final cleaning bill.
In the end, documents show, Canada paid the Federal Agency for Real Estate in Germany $2.3 million in 2008-09 and another $3.7 million in 2009-10.
The cost to clean up the closed German bases comes to light as Canadian troops are leaving another base in a much different part of the world.
Canada's combat mission in Afghanistan ended this week and troops are leaving the sprawling base at Kandahar Airfield -- some for the smaller confines of classrooms in other parts of the country to train local soldiers.