Nazi Weapons At the Bottom of the Baltic Sea

#Environment

Thu, Apr 24th, 2014 10:00 by capnasty NEWS

The Economist notes on how we're still living with the legacy of World War II: reportedly, the Allies dumped "thousands of tonnes of Nazi chemical weapons and chemical agents into the Baltic Sea," with the Soviets often tossing everything overboard “as soon as they were out of sight of land.” Now, as the weapons corrode and slowly leak their deadly content into the sea, researchers have found "an increase in fish with illnesses and genetic defects in the areas of the known dumping zones."

Under an agreement reached at the Potsdam Conference in 1945, Britain and the Soviet Union dumped around 65,000 tonnes of Germany’s chemical weapons stockpile into the murky depths of the Baltic Sea in 1947-48. Since then the threat posed by the shells and drums full of hazardous waste has been subject to speculation and research. Some scientist called it a “ticking time-bomb”.

It now appears the ticking has got louder. Recent research by Poland’s Military University of Technology has found traces of mustard gas on the sea bed just a few hundred metres off the Polish coast, in the Gulf of Gdansk. This indicates corrosion of the metal, and that poisonous chemicals are now leaking into the water and could be absorbed by fish, entering the food chain. Scientists are concerned, but not just because containers are leaking. There should be no chemical weapons in the Gulf of Gdansk as this was not a dumping zone. Stanislaw Popiel, from the team of the military university, which carried out the research, said that it was hard to say where the contamination came from.

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