Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Father Knew Best - Not Really.

It seems our European cousins are coming to grips with the utter madness of the past.   Along the Atlantic coast and in the Baltic sea thousands of tonnes of chemical weapons littering the seabed are close to corroding through.

"Nobody knows exactly how many discarded chemical weapons are hidden in the waters around Europe. For instance, in the Baltic, where after World War II the Allies dumped munitions originating from German arsenals, there are at least 40,000 tonnes, of which at least 13,000 tonnes contain poisonous substances. A sixth of this amount would be sufficient to kill all life in the Baltic for a hundred years.

"Not a reassuring idea, for anyone who knows that mustard gas, chloropicrin, phosgene, diphosgene and arsenic compounds are packed in cases and drums that will rust through sooner or later. No one knows when this will happen, but it is certain to.

"Ten years ago, the Russian scientist Aleksander Korotenko predicted that somewhere between 2020 and 2060 the corrosion will have progressed so far that the poison will start to leak out. Sixteen percent is sufficient to wipe out all life in the Baltic."

The best thing the Euros have going for them is that these discarded weapons will release their toxins gradually and over a very wide area.   That's about the best that can be hoped for.   The weapons are now far too dangerous to attempt to recover.  That would pose an unacceptable risk of a major poison discharge.


crf said...

What is meant by the claim that there's 6 times the poison needed to kill off all baltic life?

Skeptical me thinks it may be that they are adding up the various masses of poisonous substances, dividing each by their lethal doses, and dividing that again by the amount of marine life in the baltic, and ending up with the number 6.

Such a calculation tell you next to nothing about the actual threat, though. And, beyond identifying them (the rate of release, the reaction with water which may degrade them), the article doesn't do a good job of actually putting numbers to the constraints to the harm these substance will pose. So it's entirely possible for this article to be true, and that the actual threat to marine health from these munitions is negligible.

The Mound of Sound said...

Chris, the linked article contains links that will take you to the organizations producing the source materials.