2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 23 Jun 2003 14:09:52 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Discarded War Munitions Leach Poisons Into the Baltic
Discarded War Munitions Leach Poisons Into the Baltic
June 20, 2003

ALLIN, Estonia  American teams may be struggling to find chemical
weapons and other poisonous materials in Iraq, but tens of thousands of
bombs and barrels filled with blistering agents and nerve gas lie
scattered in the Baltic Sea and the eastern Atlantic.

American, British and Soviet military dumped them there after World War
II. Entire ships full of weapons, most of them captured from Nazi
Germany, were scuttled for disposal and forgotten. Now they have come
back to haunt the environment.

Over time, scientists say, the weapon casings have corroded in the
seawater and become brittle, allowing poisons like arsenic, lewisite,
mustard gas and sarin to leach out. Scientists from the Baltic countries
and Russia have found lethal material mixed in with sediments, and
highly toxic sulfur mustard gas, transformed into brown-yellow clumps of
gel, has washed ashore.

The problem is compounded by fishermen who have gone into risky areas to
chase depleted fish stocks, using increasingly aggressive methods,
including bottom tackle that snag the bombs. They routinely find mustard
gas clumps among their catch and haul up whole or damaged chemical bombs
in their nets.

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