Chemical weapons dumped into the Baltic Sea in the aftermath of WW II are presenting a greater and greater problem for fish and other wildlife in the region.
Salvaging all of them is impossible for practical and economic reasons. Researchers are now working on a mechanism for determining which areas need to be addressed.
Several decades after tons upon tons of Nazi chemical weapons including mustard gas, arsenic bombs and a host of other toxins were dumped into the sea, the casings have eroded and the chemicals are now leaking freely, poisoning fish and various aquatic organisms.
With the axis powers defeated, the allies found a total of 300,000 metric tons of chemical weapons in Germany and Nazi-occupied areas.
To address this problem as quickly as possible, partly to demilitarize and partly to prevent them from getting into unruly hands, a large proportion of these were dumped at sea.
The dumps took place as part of the 1945 Potsdam agreement.
Today, over 70 years later, the casings have eroded, allowing the chemicals to leak freely. All in all, hundreds of thousands of tons of mustard gas, arsenic bombs and a host of other toxins were dumped at various locations in the Baltic and the North Sea.
In the last 15 years, several international projects have been carried out in order to understand the extent of the problem.
Work has been underway to determine areas of the Baltic where the chemical arms could possibly be salvaged. The methodology of risk analysis is based on a Swedish tool.
Salvaging chemical arms from the seabed is an advanced, multi-step process, in which the chemicals are first redeployed in new containers together with surrounding sediment and shipped inland to be destroyed. As of today, special facilities exist in Germany and Belgium.
However, due to heavy restrictions surrounding the shipment of chemical arms, mobile disposal facilities are likely to be moved closer to port areas.
Sputnik / AA Magnum Analyst Blog News 2018.