I hope that kossacks will rise in outrage in response to this story, and mobilize at least as passionately as they do for lesser causes. Contact your Senators and Representatives and get them to do something about this horror story that affects all of us. More on the gruesome details of this criminal act against life on Earth below the fold.
These weapons virtually ring the country, concealed off the coast of at least 11 states -- 6 on the East coast, 2 on the Gulf coast, and California, Hawaii, and Alaska. Few, if any, state officials have been informed of their existence.One of the Army's leading authorities sez he doesn't have a clue where it all is, and adds "It can last for a very, very long time." We are told a single drop of nerve agent kills within a minute, lasts up to six weeks in water, and kills every organism in the area. Mustard gas makes a gel that lasts for 5 years. Or in the case of the dredged up artillery shells, about 90 years. Apparantly many of the weapons dumped at sea are leaking from corrosion, resulting in time-release deadly chemicals spreading throughout the areas. Also from the story:
The chemical agents could pose a hazard for generations. The Army has examined a few of its 26 dump zones, but not in the last 30 years. The Army can't say exactly where all the weapons were dumped from WWII to 1970. Army records are sketchy or missing, or were destroyed. More dumpsites probably exist. The Army hasn't reviewed WWI-era records, when ocean dumping of chemical weapons was common,
The Army's secret ocean-dumping program spanned at least three decades, from 1944 to 1970. The dumped weapons were deemed to be unneeded surplus.... hazardous to transport, expensive to store, too dangerous to bury and difficult to destroy.God, no wonder the whales and dolphins occasionally beach themselves en masse! As if the sonar experiments and underwater detonations weren't enough, they also have to run a literal minefield filled with toxic substances that can kill all life in its range! This is criminal!! I'm so heppy to read that in the '70s the Army admitted to the program so that Congress could ban the practice in 1972, and that we are party to an international treaty forbidding ocean disposal of chemical weapons. However, it seems that "only now have Army reports come to light that show how much was dumped, what kind of chemical weapons they were, when they were thrown overboard, and rough nautical coordinates of where some are located."
To add insult to injury, in their infinite stupidity "the Army presumes most of the weapons are in very deep water and unlikely to jeopardize divers or commercial fishing operations that dredge the ocean bottom." But how do they know? What is their scientific standard for testing what comes up from the deep? We are further told that "boaters, divers, fishermen, and commercial seafood trawlers have no way to steer clear of the dumpsites, because the Army has put only one of its 26 known chemical weapons dumps on nautical charts," according to the NOAA. Folks, this is an utter, freaking disaster of global proportions! I guess the words to the old Spirit song are more accurate than we could ever imagine: "The World's A Can For Your Fresh Garbage." And the Army's toxic chemicals too!
In the latest news from the same source as of 21 November 2005, Senator John Warner says the Army has put monitoring devices around the dump zone off NJ where the mustard gas filled shells were found last summer and they have finally made it a priority, and "The Army is looking into the problem aggressively." They say they're going to search all surviving records, and figure out which agency will do the flak catching as alarmed people call in from all around the country. And of course they're playing CYA "before answering requests for information from Warner and others in Congress upset that state and local officials were never notified the dumps exist." They go on to state "We'll stay on top of the issue."
Why am I not reassured? At least two Congressmen, one from NJ and the other from Hawaii, have threatened to hold hearings if the Army can't or won't come clean, and provide proof the dumps won't leak. Of course the DOD has never been known for cleaning up the messes it creates. This is unbelievable! But for military polluters, it's just another day on toxic Earth. To find out more just how much of a mess this is, please go to the newspaper site link and check out the maps on the left hand side of the story. (Update: you can find a link to the maps in a comment not that far from the top - thank you OLinda!) This is criminal negligence beyond anything we can imagine, and it probably has affected more people's health than the government will ever admit.
Oh yeah - forgot to mention that my site is Political Physics (Self-promotion amnesia!)