Toxic Munitions Dumping Sites off our Shores

Originally published: August 10, 2010
Updated: August 31, 2010 at 10:38 pm
By

Chemical agents could pose a hazard for generations

dumping

Loading Up (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army) Canisters of mustard gas and Lewisite head to sea from California for dumping in 1958.




Earlier this summer a crew member aboard a clamming vessel pulled up mysterious canisters from the ocean off the south shore of Long Island.

Turns out they were exposed to mustard gas, used during World War I as a chemical warfare agent. The 145-foot clam boat, based out of Atlantic City, N.J., and all crew members were safely moored and the crew decontaminated.

Additionally, 504,000 pounds (14,400 bushels) of clams the crew had unloaded, not knowing they had been contaminated, were sold in New Bedford. This required Massachusetts state officials to search for and isolated the catch.

The state officials safely disposed of the clams and the Coast Guard was tasked with decontaminating the boat, removing any detectable sulfur mustard contamination on the vessel.

“What is stunning to everyone is it is still so potent after all this time,” said Boyer, a medical toxicologist who studies mustard gas.

People exposed to mustard gas on their skin are often not aware of it until 24 hours later when enormous, raised blisters occur; that is exactly what happened to the crew member, Boyer said.

MUSTARD GAS
First used during World War I, mustard gas is a colorless, odorless liquid at room temperature and causes extreme blistering. The name stems from its color and smell in its impure state. It’s not related to the condiment mustard in any way. It’s commonly referred to as a gas because the military designed it for use as an aerosol.

Even slight exposure leads to deep, agonizing blisters that appear within four to 24 hours of contact. If it gets into the eyes, they swell shut, and blindness can result. If inhaled at high doses, the respiratory system bleeds internally, and death is likely.

Exposure to more than 50 percent of the body’s skin is usually fatal. It also causes cancer.

It was the most common type of chemical weapon dumped. It was dumped in 1-ton canisters and artillery shells for decades. Mustard agent is heavier than seawater, so it sinks and rolls around on the ocean floor with the prevailing current.

It lasts at least five years in seawater in a concentrated gel.






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10 Responses to Toxic Munitions Dumping Sites off our Shores

  1. [...] I have been reporting here about a history of cover-up’s and it’s far reaching effects, yet to be determined. Now [...]

  2. [...] enough I recently researched toxic Munitions dumping sites right off our shores. After a crew member aboard a clamming vessel pulled up mysterious canisters from the ocean off the [...]

  3. [...] no link has been made with the Gulf Oil Disaster or toxic dumping, all signs point to a growing pollution issue that may manifest itself in years to come at even [...]

  4. [...] creatures were found on the shores. Although no link has been made with the Gulf Oil Disaster or Toxic Dumping, all signs point to a growing pollution issue that may manifest itself in years to come at even [...]

  5. [...] creatures were found on the shores. Although no link has been made with the Gulf Oil Disaster or Toxic Dumping, all signs point to a growing pollution issue that may manifest itself in years to come at even [...]

  6. [...] people don’t know that the U.S. military has used the ocean as a trashcan for munitions for decades. The Army admits that it secretly dumped 64 million pounds of nerve and mustard agents [...]

  7. […] Investigators plan to take blood and tissue samples and test them for infectious agents such as viruses, bacteria and fungi, as well as non-infectious agents such as biotoxins. […]

  8. […] 1970, the oceans were the number one spot to dispose of excessive rubbish, including toxic munitions like mustard gas and radioactive waste. Hundreds of thousands of these barrels litter the ocean […]

  9. […] 1970, a oceans were a series one mark to dispose of extreme rubbish, including toxic munitions like mustard gas and hot waste. Hundreds of thousands of these barrels spawn a sea floor. Although […]

  10. […] 1970, a oceans were a series one mark to dispose of extreme rubbish, including toxic munitions like mustard gas and hot waste. Hundreds of thousands of these barrels spawn a sea floor. Although […]

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