Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Those Shells Aren't Clams

Some clam fisherman working off the coast of New York got a nasty surprise when they hauled up their catch. Along with the clams, they got a couple of old mustard gas shells, one of which was leaking.
one of its six crewmen, Konstantin Burndshov, reported blistering and shortness of breath. ... Burndshov had painful blisters about three-quarters of an inch high on an arm and a leg
The gas, which had been dumped there sometime between 1945 and 1970, was still highly effective even though Burndshov was wearing "oil skins and elbow-length gloves." A couple of other crewman also reported mild symptoms.

According to the report, the fishing boat was operating in "charted munitions dumping zone," which doesn't carry any fishing restrictions. Maybe it should. This part of the article isn't too reassuring.
A 2001 Army report found 74 past instances of ocean disposal — 32 off U.S. shores and 42 off foreign coasts. For example, in 1967 the Army dumped 4,577 one-ton containers of a mustard agent and 7,380 sarin rockets off the New Jersey shore, according to Army records.
That's a whole lot of chemical weapons sitting off the coast somewhere underwater.

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