Ticking Time-Bombs - Ocean Dumping by US Military

Recently the US Congress has focused more attention on the illegal ocean dumping of chemical weapons and hazardous nuclear waste by the US military.

The Army and Air Force secretly dumped massive amounts of chemical weapons and nuclear waste into the oceans up until the early 70's.

Many of the canisters were leaking when dumped. Most are likely to be leaking now, after many decades in seawater.

It wasn't until 2001 that the Army revealed more of the true extent of its dumping and what was dumped. While it revealed that most of the dumping occured off foreign shores it didn't reveal specific locations. The countries affected were never notified of the ticking time-bombs of death off their shores.

Documents show that domestic dumping occured in at least 26 locations off the coasts of 11 states, but the actual locations are still being withheld.

Some sites of conventional munitiions dumping have been identified off the coasts of Hawaii and surveys will be conducted soon to assess the hazards. .

The consequences of having millions of pounds of extremely hazardous chemical weapons leaking into the oceans is of grave concern, yet the military has mostly ignored the issue and done nothing to mitigate the risk.

With the rapid increase in the devasting practice of deep ocean trawling - where everything on the seabed is scooped up and brought the to the surface to die, the risk of releasing nerve agents, mustard gas, hydrogen cyanide, arsenic trichloride, cyanogen chloride, phosgene, sarin, lewisite and nuclear waste has increased dramatically. In many areas every square foot of the ocean bottom is being scrapped clean. There is a significant chance that some of the tens of thousands of tons of weapons will find their way to the surface and be released.

If an intact canister is brought to the surface the sudden change in pressure could cause it to rupture, affecting the ship's crew. Once exposed to air onshore winds could carry the agents to populated areas. Depending upon how far the toxins travel, the effects could be devastating.

U.S. Rep. Robert Andrews claims that most of the dumping in the Atlantic was done 20-30 miles offshore, well within the range of bottom trawlers and other fishing boats and close enough for agents to be carried on the wind to populated areas.

The effects of chemical weapons and nuclear waste released into the oceans hasn't been well studied or even considered. Given that the dumping of the materials were kept secret for so long, scientists didn't even known of the hazard and no funding has been provided for studies. The military continues to keep the locations of its dumping grounds secret so that the full extent of its crimes can't be known.

It is inevitable that most of the chemical weapons have been leaking into the oceans. Could this be the cause for mysterious fish kills and beachings of whales and dolphins? Have they been trying to tell us something that we are simply too deaf to hear and too stupid to understand?

In May, 2006 an amendment was added to the Defence Policy Bill to be considered in 2007 that would require a study of the problem - far too little too late to make any real difference but at least a semblence of some kind of step in the right direction.

Instead of prosecuting the US for environmental crimes against its own environment and other countries, the United Nations has remained completely silent on the issue. In fact, most of the world doesn't know of the issue so it simply isn't an issue.

The exposure of past military crimes against the planet and its species hasn't deterred the further US development of chemical weapons. Since Bush and cronnies took control, the budget for banned chemical & biological weapons increased by ten times. Prior to Bush and 911 spending was only at $750 million and now it is close to $8 billion each year.

The US has started construction on the new National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center within the National Interagency Biodefense Campus at Fort Detrick, Maryland. The new facility will “acquire, grow, modify, store, stabilize, package [and] disperse” biological weapons. Other official plans include development of genetically-modified versions of deadly bacteria.

One can only wonder how much of the new round of chemical and biological weapons will be secretly dumped into the environment.

Hardly a year passes when some heinous crime of the US military against people or the environment isn't revealed. Yet, every year the budget for the US military increases as does the level of secrecy. Spending hundreds of billions each year on organizations whose missions are death is utterly insane and can only result in disaster.

It is well past the time for Americans to wake up and realize what their nation has become.

For more information please read the Congressional Research Service report:

U.S. Disposal of Chemical Weapons in the Ocean: Background and Issues for Congress