WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION IN D.C. (BLOG). MAY 17, 2010. By Allen Hengst
Global Green USA's Security and Sustainability Program continued discussing sea-dumped munitions, especially chemical weapons (CW) as part of its "Healing the Oceans" initiative. This roundtable gave a general introduction to the issue, describing the geography, quantities and potential health hazards. The session was particularly important in defining the context within which the more in-depth roundtables to follow will delve further into the primary geographic locations – the Baltic, the Pacific, including Hawaii, and the Mediterranean – and tackle legal, public health and possible mitigation issues.
According to U.S. Department of Defense reports, the U.S military alone dumped CW [chemical warfare] agents in waters worldwide on at least 74 occasions between 1918 and 1970 ... Shells and bombs sometimes were jettisoned unfettered, but more often were loaded as cargo into ships that were sunk by opening sea cocks or holed by artillery fire or torpedoes. Sunken ships tended to settle on the ocean floor largely intact, with the result that the CW material they contained remained within a small area. Unfettered material could settle within a small area, but also might become widely dispersed by currents, tides, and other forces. As can be realized, not much consideration was given at the time to the safety and environmental implications of employing ocean-dumping disposal techniques.