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In an alarming piece of news courtesy of the Newport News Daily Press, we find the Army dumped chemical weapons at sea for decades, and some of it is now a toxic sludge poisoning all of us in more ways than we can imagine. Even though a select few have known for years the Army was disposing of chemical weapons in ways not healthy for any of us, we are told "records obtained by the Daily Press show that the previously classified weapopns-dumping program was far more extensive than had been suspected." The Army now admits it dumped 64 MILLION pounds of nerve and mustard gas agents, 400,000 chemical filled bombs, landmines, and rockets, and more than 500 TONS of radioactive waste into the seas. This is a disaster beyond description, and affects every living thing on Earth.

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.

The original story only broke due to clam dredging off the NJ coast last summer that pulled up three WWI artillery shells filled with black sludge mustard gas which subsequently injured three bomb disposal technicians, one burned seriously. We are told:
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.

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,
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 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!)

Originally posted to Laughingcat on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 01:09 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Great diary! (none)
    You should read this.

    There's always the case for another draft.

    by theleftknew on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 01:12:26 PM PST

    •  2nd that. Thanks for this n/t (none)

      You didn't do it.

      by Earl on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 01:15:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Hello all (4.00)
      There's a lot I still haven't figured out regarding how to maximize this site and tags etc. Sorry I've been gone for awhile, but since the link to the original update story was busted, I went in search of another way in. That's what's there now. The update requires a subscription, but that's msm for you. Anyway, thanks for stopping by, ya'll.

      If not now, when? If not here, where?

      by Laughingcat on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 01:51:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I read this (none)
      story sometime back. Thom Hartmann was talking about this same issue too. It really doesn't surprise me. In another article I was reading that Fallon Nevada is the leukemia hot spot in the country, with 10 times the national average. It is from the depleted uranium shells that were tested there.

      "All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent." Thomas Jefferson

      by llih on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 03:22:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The USA (none)
      isn't the only place with this problem.

      One of the main concerns is Beaufort's Dyke, a deep submarine trench in the Irish Sea between Scotland and Northern Ireland, used as a munitions dump since early last century.

      Sometimes I just feel like giving up on the human race!

      Casualty is the first truth of war. (-6.00,-7.03)

      by Foreign Devil on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 03:38:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Maybe they can encase it in glass (none)
        Do you know what they're doing to mitigate it?

        If not now, when? If not here, where?

        by Laughingcat on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 04:04:22 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Ignoring it and hoping it will go away I think.n/t (none)

          Casualty is the first truth of war. (-6.00,-7.03)

          by Foreign Devil on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 04:25:41 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Seriously (none)
          I don't think we have technology to deal with this crap. Beaufort's Dyke is full of all sorts of awful shit. It's not only chemical and radioactive, there's also millions of kilos of good old HE.

          Talking of HE the same article I linked mentions

          Michael Fellows is also worried about the wreck of the US freighter Richard Montgomery, which sank with its cargo of high explosives in August 1944 off Sheerness in the Thames estuary.

          He said: "It's a ticking timebomb. It's likely to go pop at some stage. Areas of Sheerness within about 3km (1.9 miles) will feel the effects.

          "And they really ought to be worried about the new liquid gas terminal they're going to build 2.5km (1.5 miles) from the wreck."

          Believe me I'd hear that if it goes off. Basically no British government has spent any effort on this for years. It's one of those "someone else's problem" until it goes "pop!".

          The Irish sea is by no means the only place the UK has dumped this crap.

          Casualty is the first truth of war. (-6.00,-7.03)

          by Foreign Devil on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 04:38:50 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Groomslake (4.00)
    You should check out the government's record on the environment at the super-secure bases like Groomslake (of Area 51 and Stealth plane fame), or at any of the nuclear facilities like Hanford.

    They've been pulling a Bush for years and exempting themselves from inconvenient regulations.

    RULE OF LAW. That's all the reason you need to oppose Republicans.

    by nightsweat on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 01:16:18 PM PST

  •  I would say (none)
    unbelievable but given the current state of things this doesn't surprise me one bit.

    Probably explains the Bermuda Triangle.....

    "Never has there been a good war or a bad peace." - Benjamin Franklin

    by rgrdave on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 01:17:24 PM PST

  •  i get an error when i click on that link (none)
  •  great diary ..............n/t (none)
  •  Once You Admit It Was Not a Bright Idea (4.00)
    Now what?? Those munitions will likely corrode gradually, which at this point is the best that can be hoped for. Once a shell vents it's contents the seawater that comes in contact with the released agent will quickly render it yucky rather than deadly.

    Any attempt to remove them, or those we can locate, would be an immense mistake, probably the worst possible course of action. There WOULD be massive, concentrated releases that would do serious harm.

    Best approach would be to locate and identify the dumps we can and declare those areas Marine Sanctuaries and ban all subsurface human activity.

    •  Interesting new definition of sanctuary. (none)
      Maybe you should write for Bushco. Kidding, TBK.
      •  I'll Use ANY Excuse to Give Nature an Acre (4.00)
        Most of the time, most of the area would be unaffected by what's buried in the bottom, and could go about it's business without huge nets being dragged through.
        •  No way (none)
          the radioactive and toxic chemicals aren't taking their toll on the sea life. You swim in a radioactive sea and you'll see what I mean. Or the East River, or the Charles, or any of our urban waste zones. This stuff is definitely more harmful than what is occasionally spilled here in Santa Monica Bay, where all kinds of beings wind up with rashes and more. These are not inert chemicals. Just 'cause the sea mammals can't talk doesn't mean....

          If not now, when? If not here, where?

          by Laughingcat on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 01:57:12 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I think you miss the point (4.00)
            Cleaning this stuff up if was in Boston Harbor would be hard enough. Trying to go down 300 or 400 feet to do this (or even deeper) would be next to impossible. We lack the experience and the tools to bring this stuff up to the surface safely. BK is right that we're better off flagging the area and letting it corrode gradually.

            - "You're Hells Angels, then? What chapter are you from?"

            by Hoya90 on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 02:06:06 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Hoya90 and TBK are right (4.00)
              Except for maybe the radioactive debris, leave the chemical agents be. It would be horrendously dangerous for both humans and the environment to to try to bring them to the surface and then incinerate them. The slow deterioration of the chem agents on the deep ocean floor means that many will be buried under tons of sediment and others will release their degraded contents slowly, allowing them to be diluted with seawater.

              Better to spend our energies making sure that the present military obeys ALL current environmental laws, rather than ignoring them or getting the crooks in congress to excempt the DOD from them.

              •  Imagine the fate of archeologists (none)
                a millenia or two from now, when the ocean beds of today are deserts (desserts) for the digging tomorrow. Hopefully they're all at least labelled with some kind of skull and crossbones warning.
                •  archeologists in a few millenia.. (none)
                  That would be cockroaches with pHd's?

                  Bugs and germs will inherit the earth!

                  "I don't want to name names, but they know themselves." Koffi Annan

                  by Sue in NH on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 05:42:38 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  OT: Oceans as deserts? (none)

                  For the ocean areas where these munitions were dumped to become dry land, one of two things would have to happen:

                  • A massive amount of water would have to be locked up in polar ice sheets and glaciers, more than any previous ice age.

                  • A massive amount of water would have to have evaporated due to intense climate change, something on the order of the current state of the planet Venus.

                  Either way, humanity would be screwed.  Royally screwed.  Any archaeologists would have to be visiting from some other planet.  With any luck, it would be an offworld human colony.

                  "The dinosaurs are extinct because they didn't have a space program" -- Larry Niven


                  "In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart." - Anne Frank

                  by ktakki on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 07:25:53 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

            •  next to impossible (none)
              but i'm very concerned. our very lives depend on the amount of biota in the ocean and on land. forget about global climate systems - without living things to produce and cycle the energy of the climate and the flora, the ocean will rapidly become even more desert than it is today. and yes, loss of the planet will be far more expensive.

              /there are no rules except discovery /the only tradition is invention. -rachel pollack

              by joseph rainmound on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 06:26:10 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Do The Math (4.00)
            500 tons of radioactive waste is 25 tractor-trailer loads, not good to have lying around but it pales to insignificance alongside 64,000,000 pounds of chemical agents.

            The recovery of the radioactive materials might be feasible, both because it would be easier to locate and because it was probably packaged more securely.

            There's no doubt that every time a shell or drum or rocket vents it's chemical load into the water it negatively impacts the area around the release, but it affects a limited area for a limited period. Trying to remove that stuff would result in massive releases and inevitable human exposure.

          •  I like the idea of toxic nature reserves. (none)
            Not that I'm in favor of making anywhere toxic.

            I would invite you to visit this unique site and browse.

            .Kiddofspeed - GHOST TOWN - Chernobyl Pictures -
            Elena's Motorcyle Ride through Chernobyl

            We travel as long as asphalt road last and then leaving vehicle and continue walking by foot. No need to worry about leaving car or motorcycle, no one will find it, there are as many chances to meet someone here as to meet someone on Antarctica.

            Casualty is the first truth of war. (-6.00,-7.03)

            by Foreign Devil on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 03:56:27 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Saw this a while ago (none)
              and it's brilliant and depressing. My sister used to work semi-regularly in Ukraine, and she said the entire area around Chernobyl is all a wasteland, where once it was the vegetable basket of south-west Asia. Radioactive water, lettuce, lots of fried pork, potatoes, and vodka. The abandoned apartment buildings in the movie are spooky.

              If not now, when? If not here, where?

              by Laughingcat on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 04:08:18 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  But, it's not a wasteland, it's thriving (none)
                Come on, learn some science and stop being so scared of radiation, we live (and evolved)in a sea of it (both literally and figuratively), but back on topic about Chernobyl:

                Not only have pockets of defiant local residents remained behind to survive and make a life in the Zone, but the area surrounding Chernobyl has become Europe's largest wildlife sanctuary, a flourishing - at times unearthly - wilderness teeming with large animals, many of them members of rare and endangered species. Like the forests, fields, and swamps of their unexpectedly inviting habitat, both the people and the animals are radioactive. Cesium-137 is packed in their muscles and strontium-90 in their bones. But quite astonishingly, they are also thriving.

                •  And their hair falls out (none)
                  in clumps, and the old ones at 40-something cough blood, and it's allllll goooood because they actually believe that if they drink enough Cabernet it counteracts the radiation. I guess that means here in California we're closer to the cure....

                  If not now, when? If not here, where?

                  by Laughingcat on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 04:33:43 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  but on the bright side... (none)
                    at least we know that when the final human dies in the toxic air on the edge of a toxic ocean the the Earth will move right along and life will continue, just not human life (or all those species we made extinct). At least the radiation will give a great boost to evolution as it did milenia ago when the Earth was way more radioactive than it is today.

                    Sorry, trying to scrape a glimmer of hope from this depressing subject.

                    Casualty is the first truth of war. (-6.00,-7.03)

                    by Foreign Devil on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 04:54:50 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

  •  We always knew the truth was a horror (none)
      It's not just that the truth is out there, but it's leaking and contaminating our environoment.

      Congress not only needs to address this, to investigate and even hold trials and excoriate those responsible - these are crimes against humanity - and create new laws making this a special crime within the military code.

      In light of everything else with the daily horror show, this is just another in a long line of irresponsible actions. We must get mature adults into the act and real teeth into the law. This is stupid juvenile level irresponsibility and it is flat fucking killing us. We can't afford this shit anymore (as if we ever could).

      What a bunch of short-sighted fools.

      Thanks, Laughingcat, for the diary.

    Energy and information are the primary elements of the universe.

    by walkshills on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 01:28:19 PM PST

    •  Crimes Against Humanity?? (none)
      This is not a neo-con boondoggle designed to enrich Halliburton (though any effort to clean them all up would be). These munitions go all the wat back to WWI, when chemical warfare was just part of the battlefield. This stuff made up a significant part of the U.S. arsenal for 60 years or so, and we still don't have a good way to get rid of it when it's in a warehouse.

      The people who dumped this stuff thought they were choosing the best of a bunch of bad options, and they may well have been right. Trying to store or destroy that stuff anywhere else would almost certainly have been worse.

      If we can identify any near-shore dumps a clean-up might be worth considering.

      For the rest, anything other than helping the burial process where that's practical is worse than doing nothing.

      •  Johnson Island, Hawaii (none)
        is the current repository and inceneration site for Army stores of nerve and chemcial agents.  By treaty, we've committed to destroying these munitions.  

        I was involved in 1970-71 moving trailer load after trailer load of these munitions off Okinawa and shipped to Johnson Island.

        That being said, that there exists a disposal operation in Hawaii (and Utah, as well), the thought of trying to move, raise, transport, and then dispose of munitions that have rested on the sea floor for decades would be a disaster.

        It's broke, but the people that broke it should leave it alone.

        I kinda like Howard Dean, it's those wild eye crazies that came with him I wonder about!

        by redlief on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 03:42:28 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  The general outcome (none)
        is what I was considering. I was aware this wasn't a recent, neo-con 'boondoogle.' No, they would have made money off of it.

          While there may have been no malicious intent in any of these actions, I mean that in essence these types of long-term problems - and nuclear waste falls into the same category - represent both present and future threats to humanity and to the food chain which supports us. End of the world stuff? No, but certainly can be dangerous to certain regions. And that includes non-human lifeforms, from ocean and near-shore species to reefs.

          While there are disposal sites operating now, these older dump sites all need monitoring and some sort of inspection over time.

          Like you, I think that if there is something could be done on the pragmatic level that worked, it should be considered. Especially near-shore dumps, especially if they are in hurricane prone areas.  


        Energy and information are the primary elements of the universe.

        by walkshills on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 08:45:58 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  The Sheep Look Up (none)
    The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed
    But swollen with wind and the rank mist they draw
    Rot inwardly, and foul contagion spread.
    (Lycidas, John Milton, 1638)

    This is CLASS WAR, and the other side is winning.

    by Mr X on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 01:50:15 PM PST

  •  Irony of ironies, (4.00)
    you dont have to go into the deep water to find chemical weapons, improperly disposed of.
    n the northwest corner of the District of Columbia, sandwiched between the Potomac River and the Maryland state line, is an affluent enclave of elegant homes and tree-lined streets known as Spring Valley. This neighborhood is home to some 13,000 people, including members of Washington's political and financial elite. The 660-acre community includes approximately 1,200 houses valued at between $600,000 and $1 million, along with the campus of American University, schools, churches, a hospital, foreign embassies, and a theological seminary. Beyond its reputation as a quiet, upscale neighborhood, Spring Valley has a less desirable attribute: It is the only residential area in the United States where a major chemical weapons cleanup operation is under way.

    During World War I, much of what later became the Spring Valley neighborhood was devoted to the development and testing of chemical weapons, a fact that was largely forgotten during its subsequent residential development.

    But the past came back to haunt Spring Valley on January 5, 1993, when a backhoe digging a sewer line in front of a recently constructed house in a luxury development uncovered a cache of rusting munitions, including four unexploded mortar rounds and three 75-millimeter artillery shells. [1]  Within hours, army bomb-removal specialists wearing gas masks arrived by helicopter from Aberdeen Proving Group in Maryland. They determined that the mortar rounds still had fuses in them--that they were "live" and extremely dangerous. Some of the munitions were also believed to contain mustard agent, an oily liquid that causes painful and debilitating burns and blisters on the skin and can inflict fatal lung damage if inhaled. Today, eight years later, additional chemical weapon dump sites have been discovered in Spring Valley, and the cleanup continues.

     This cache is just  blocks from "Big Times" house at the Naval Observatory.

    And of course, we are not the only guilty ones

    From World War I until the 1970s, dumping of chemical weapons at sea was the accepted practice for disposal. Little documentation of this practice can be found before the mid -1940s. In 1943, mustard (H) was released into the waters of Bari harbor in . Since the end of World War II, ocean dumping has occurred in many areas, including the Baltic Sea, around Japan, in the Adriatic Sea near Bari, and in the coastal waters of the United States. During the period 1945 -1948, The US scuttled at sea approximately 32,000 tons of captured German chemical weapons. The British dumped approximately 175,000 tons of chemical weapons at sea, with 100,000 tons coming from and the balance from the captured German stockpile. During 1955-56, the British dumped a further 17,000 tons of captured German munitions. During 1956-1957, the British disposed of the remainder of their stockpile of chemical weapons, 8,000 tons of World War II vintage mustard and phosgene munitions. News reports indicate that the ocean dumping in the 1950s occurred in the Irish Sea; some of the British dumps in the late 1940s may have occurred in the North Sea. (Ref.: 1; 5)

    A poisonous legacy of Nazi Germany, more than 300,000 tons of weapons confiscated by the Allies was dumped between 1945 and 1947 at the bottom of the Baltic Sea. The toxic stockpile includes nearly 65,000 tons of mustard gas, nerve agent sarin and the notorious death camp gas, Zyklon B are beginning to leak, scientists and environmentalists have warned. (Ref. 1; 2; 3)

    This has been a long known, long term problem that bubbles into view every once in a while.  There is some hand wringing and then disappears from view again...

    Most people spend their lives getting out of trouble, Repo Men spend their lives getting INTO trouble

    by calipygian on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 01:53:33 PM PST

  •  A little perspective. (none)
    I'm not saying this is not very bad, but a little numeracy never hurt anybody:

    There's about 1.4 billion billion (1,400,000,000,000,000,000) tons of water in the oceans. That's 2.8 billion trillion (2,800,000,000,000,000,000,000) pounds.

    About eighty million (80,000,000) tons of fish were caught in 1996.

    So 32,000 tons of chemical weapons, though a lot of nasty stuff, is not a huge amount.

    Of course, it's not evenly distributed in the ocean, and the radioactive material is genuinely bad for pretty much forever, so this is not a non-issue.

    Just important to remember that the ocean is REALLY BIG.

    •  Although (4.00)
      I read a report from a few years back when the French were testing nuclear weapons in the south pacific.  They tested radioactive particle levels in the water before, just after, and then periodically after the nuclear test and it showed that ocean current had effectively distributed the material to the point that it aws within almost undetectable levels.  The ocean is able to handle a lot due to its sheer size.

      This doesn't of course excuse the government dumping waste into it like theres no tomorrow.

      (if by "criminalization of politics" you mean politics being taken over by criminals, you are absolutely correct)

      by Drezden on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 01:58:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yep--he ocean contains billions of curies... (4.00)
        Over billions of years, uranium, thorium, radium, etc. erode out of the soil and are washed into the ocean. Volcanoes emit radioactive stuff that goes mostly into the ocean.  The deep ocean floor is so radioactive that terrestrial creatures would die of radiation poisoning (well, also of the pressure, but that's another story).

        Fish are generally better equipped to handle radiation exposure than we are.

        Radionuclides, whether natural or manmade, tend to bind with ocean sediments and become immobilized.  Also, there's the process of radioactive decay:  the hotter the radionuclide, the shorter its half-life.  It takes a relatively short time for most radioactive stuff to decay to the level of natural background radiation.

        The chemical waste is far more troubling to me than the radioactive waste.  It may not decay.  Toxic heavy metals, for instance, do not.  And which chemicals would be immobilized by the sediments and which would not?

        Removing this garbage, some of it by now very old--ocean dumping of such waste was internationally banned in the 1980s--would expose more people and critters to harm than it would protect.  

        We all love to use plastics.  Most those never decay.  Our vast legacy of plastics and toxic heavy metals (mercury, for instance) from our semi-conductor driven technology and from coal combustion is going to be around for billions of years.  Now there is something to be enraged about, IMO.  The Army garbage, terrible though it is, is small poisonous potatoes in comparison.

        We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them. -Albert Einstein

        by Plan9 on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 02:19:50 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You know Plan9, (none)
          You know too dang much. Are you really Al Gore posting in disguise? I think I can detect some earth tones... <snark>
          •  Unmasked at last! (none)
            Ed, my friend, as you probably know, I endorsed nuclear power, wisely used, at a commemoration ceremony for Chernobyl when I served as Vice President.  As a conscientious environmentalist, I know that we would have far more greenhouse gases and carbon in the atmosphere without nuclear power plants and that many nations will not be able to meet their Kyoto pledges without nuclear power.

            With best wishes,

            Yours in the struggle to save the earth,
            your good pal,
            Al Gore

            We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them. -Albert Einstein

            by Plan9 on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 03:14:35 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Back in grad school in the 1970s (none)
              I had one ecology prof that warned that poorly regulated coal-fired power plants would prove to be far more damaging to the environment than well regulated nuclear plants. No one beleived him at the time.

              Now I'm not so sure he was wrong.

              •  It's all bad (none)
                given that nukes can end life for oh, at least a quarter MILLION years. If they'd take the 100 mpg carb out of the vaults, we'd cut our fossil fuel emissions overnight by 50%, and if we went full solar out here in the west, or went with wind power in the 3 windiest areas of the US, we'd have all the power we would need for centuries at pennies on the dollar for what it presently costs us. This system is busted through greed.

                If not now, when? If not here, where?

                by Laughingcat on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 03:38:50 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

    •  but we aren't talking about the entire ocean... (none)
      As you briefly mention at the end, you can start by restricting your estimates to a small cordon along our coastlines, ports, and waterways, because (a) that's where these weapons are, and (b) that's what they will affect. Then, compute the likely effect of having toxic substances from that quantity of weaponry slowly leak out over a period of years. No doubt someone in the military has already done simulations like this, and written up a revealing report that we won't see for another 30 years or so, at which point the effects will be self-evident.
    •  That's not perspective (4.00)
      That's rationalization. Not long ago--not long ago at all--someone was saying "The forests in the U.S. are REALLY BIG. We can cut as much as we want and it'll never be a problem!"

      Honestly, the numbers mean very little, or even the opposite of what you say. When it takes as low as one part in millions or even a trillion in some cases for some materials to be considered toxic, your numbers only bolster the claim of  danger in this.

      You didn't do it.

      by Earl on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 02:14:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Um... (none)
        There's more forest in North America today than when the first Europeans showed up. So I'm not entirely sure what your point is.

        Leave this shit be, prevent humans from messing with it, and learn from our mistakes. As has been reiterated many times in this thread, attempting to clean it up will cause significantly greater harm than allowing it to decay naturally.

        Also, there's probably a lot more water in the ocean than you realize.

        •  omygod (none)
          Are you serious? did you go to the Rush Limbaugh school of forestry? and there's probably a lot more water in the ocean than I realize? You are now my favorite comedian.

          You didn't do it.

          by Earl on Fri Feb 03, 2006 at 08:44:29 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  And (4.00)
      the numbers ignore the nature of ecosystems. You don't have to damage the entire ocean to damage the entire ocean, y'know?

      You didn't do it.

      by Earl on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 02:16:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  and remember (4.00)
      that some chemicals only have to number a few ppm to   be very dangerous. Suddenly your 'little' dump as the potential to do a lot of damage.

      als oonce bad things get into the environment all sorts of interactions are set up with too many variables to be completely predictable. An ecosystem may only need to suffer a slight imbalance to set in place a positive feedback loop and create a hugely dissproportianate consequence.

      'Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it'. - GBS

      by stevej on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 02:28:22 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Agreed (4.00)
      I'm angry about the ocean dumping but honestly I'm much more concerned about fresh water pollution which is obviously a much more serious problem that continues to this very day in different forms.

      "Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere"

      by Morbo on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 02:54:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  What gave our elected officials (none)
        the right to allow unclean water into our pipes? It seems that We the People have forgotten how to hold our elected officials accountable, even for minor things like clean water and air, much less an efficient system that regardless of how many BILLIONS we are forced to pay, at least they deliver. What we're settling for is waaaaay too little for waaaaay too much. And the present mindset among "leading Dems" is NOT the answer. Bold moves will inspire others, not a biz-as-usual mindset.

        If not now, when? If not here, where?

        by Laughingcat on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 03:42:42 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  it's not that freshwater pollution isn't important (none)
        but you seem to be forgetting that our freshwater and saltwater systems are fundamentally interconnected.

        All pollution is bad; particularly pollution in fluid systems, as it's only a matter of time before the affects spread from one ecosystem to another. Ranking them doesn't help with this.

        "This can't possibly get more disturbing!" - Willow

        by myriad on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 03:51:25 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  that's not perspective, that's distortion (none)
      The ocean is fluid. the great engine of the entire global biosphere is the ocean currents. These transport particles quite literally from one part of the globe to the other, north and south, east and west.

      There is no way to 'contain' waste in the ocean, so no matter how 'big' the ocean looks, all it means is   a time-delay factor. To illustrate, the ocean has handily stored 30 years' worth of exponential carbon dioxide emissions from humanity, which are all now starting to bite us on the ass, as the oceans have reached carrying capacity and are starting to warm and acidify. The only thing the size of the ocean bought us was a time delay that we didn't even appreciate or respond proactively to until the indicators showed carrying capacity had been reached.

      So when you consider that ocean dumping is a major international problem, and add that to the USA's historic dumping, the numbers you put up diminish in importance and relevance very quickly.

      What you've also forgotten is that the USA is hardly the only country to have been dumping nasty chemical and radioactive military waste. The coasts of Australia are littered with military dumps. Do you even want to guess what the former USSR and China have dumped?

      Then there's the domestic waste.

      On top of that, we know more about the moon than we do of the oceanic ecosystems; we have explored just 4%. Which makes any complacency based on simple size even more foolish.

      Complacent and ignorant posts like yours that subtly reinforce the "the ocean is a big sink" approach to understanding the only planet we have really give me the shits.

      "This can't possibly get more disturbing!" - Willow

      by myriad on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 03:48:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm sorry but (none)
      Why are you giving them excuses?  It's not like they need our help coming up with them.  They'll use yours, and say it's for national security, and say "we don't KNOW it's a problem" and everything else...

      Meanwhile, we actually have little clue, and ocean currents could be concentrating all the persistent chemicals at the poles...  (Wait, you admit that.) Or in the polluted bodies of whales.  

      Guess I'm not sure what your point was.  

      And given that ocean ecosystems are in silent collapse, I don't think the argument that "the oceans are really big" is very helpful.  

  •  A few years back it came out the Navy (none)
    was dumping old ships' batteries into the Great Lakes for years.

    Which then of course corroded, releasing their acid.

    Apparently it was a pile of them big enough to make a reef.

    "Don't be a janitor on the Death Star!" - Grey Lady Bast (change @ for AT to email)

    by bellatrys on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 01:55:53 PM PST

  •  Oh and also one big problem with (none)
    repurposing closed air bases is that they're so contaminated it's a massive headache for any business who wants to move in, all the dumping of motor oil and JP4 into the ground w/o any filtering or anything, for decades.

    Then it came out a few years ago that local wells in MA (and around the country) were contaminated with the residue of military explosives that had gotten into the groundwater.

    Guess what that causes...male sterility.

    A bunch of people can probably thank Uncle Sam for their fertility treatments...

    "Don't be a janitor on the Death Star!" - Grey Lady Bast (change @ for AT to email)

    by bellatrys on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 01:58:42 PM PST

  •  Criminal Negligence (4.00)
    is what it is. Contact the Ocean Conservency or Oceana, Sierra Club.

    Listen all of y'all it's a Sabotage! - Beastie Boys

    by See you out there on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 01:59:09 PM PST

  •  For I will sour the winds on high... (none)
    and I will soil the rivers
    and I will burn the grain in the fields and I will be your mother
    and I will go to ravage and kill and I will go to plunder
    and I will take a Fury to wife and I will be your father
    and Death will be our darling - and Fear will be our name!

    "Don't be a janitor on the Death Star!" - Grey Lady Bast (change @ for AT to email)

    by bellatrys on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 02:01:21 PM PST

  •  The Earth is cleansing herself (none)
    Part of that involves these massive hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes etc. that have resulted in disastrously high death tolls.

    Whole lotta changes coming down the road, folks.

    You reap what you sow.

    Perhaps some mighty victory is growing in you now. - Mike Finley

    by hrh on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 02:02:13 PM PST

    •  The Earth is not cleaning herself (none)
       - as far as we know the planet is not sentient. Action/reaction, cause and effect,thermodynamics etc. are the powers in play here.

      So much for science, even in a religeous context this statement is wrong - it is sentimental thinking with no basis in reality.

      'Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it'. - GBS

      by stevej on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 02:33:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm fine with science, (none)
        but I believe that focusing on science to the exclusion of all else is narrow-minded.  There's a lot of stuff we don't know, and of the stuff we do know, much of it we don't fully understand.  That's reality.

        Perhaps some mighty victory is growing in you now. - Mike Finley

        by hrh on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 03:11:29 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  HRH (none)
          I gotta sort of lean your way...being a 'healer'...we feel these things and those more attuned then I am are saying there is cleansing going on and a whole lot of shifting is going to happen...

          Won't go more into depth cuz most folks would then label me insane!  

        •  I'm with you on this, too (none)
          But then, I share your belief system (which I remember reading about on a different thread in the past). It's hard for me to understand why people don't acknowledge the Earth is sentient, aware and involved in what's taking place on Her body.

          Even Science continues to unfold and evolve.

  •  Natural dredging machines (4.00)
    Hurricanes can churn up the sea floor like nobody's business, acting as temporary, fast-track subduction zones for loose soil, sand, debris...and now CBN waste.

    The beaches are yanked back out to sea, the sand settles down on the sea floor.

    The sea floor is shoved along, sometimes parallel to the shore, sometimes, away, sometimes toward the shore.

    And along with that sediment comes CBN waste, compliments of people who thought this was not something the public should be concerned about.

    Somebody dumped CBN waste off your shoreline because they thought it was in your best interests not to know.

    Somebody dumped CBN waste off your shoreline in water your children swim in, in water your children's food swam in, because they were better off never knowing what was now a part of their children's future.

    Somebody dumped CBN waste off your shoreline because...because they could, and because they didn't have to ask you, and therefore they did not.

    The Republicrime Party is coming for your money and your life.

    by cskendrick on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 02:02:31 PM PST

  •  Is this why the reefs are dying? (none)
    Was in the Caribbean recently, and the reef was "dead."

    Are the oceans being depopulated?

    Is it possible that sedimentation will gradually cover the dump sites, providing some protection?  Layers of sand, etc...

    •  Probably Unrelated (none)
      Folks weren't stupid when these dumping programs were active, and they tried to dump the stuff in fairly deep water when they could (though there was some cheating by the venal and lazy).

      I think the reefs are being impacted by warming water and pollution, but not this particular pollution.

    •  Reefs dying (4.00)
      Are mostly global warming effects.
    •  Temperature increase is killing marine life. (none)
      Coral and other sea creatures can't adapt as fast as the ocean temperatures are rising.  This is probably the reason for reefs dying.

      As long as we use electricity made by fossil fuels and drive cars powered by them, we are helping along the process.

      Easy to get mad at the Army for something stupid it did decades ago.  Harder to look at what you and I are doing right now to the environment as we use electricity to post on this blog.  Half of all the electricity in the US comes from burning coal, which produces carbon emissions, which warm the globe and which are changing the pH of the ocean.

      We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them. -Albert Einstein

      by Plan9 on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 02:25:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's why it's time (none)
        to find a new level of dialogue, and not settle for rehashing old arguments. The last remaining anomaly of a "scientific" argument against global warming was refuted not many months ago. The glaciers are melting, oceans are rising, and though the ozone layer has barely begun to restore itself, we're still in deeeeeeep shit for some time to come. That's why the quicker we put solar and wind into play, the better we are.

        If not now, when? If not here, where?

        by Laughingcat on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 03:46:17 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  My father (none)
    During the Vietnam War my father was in the Air Force stationed at the Alamo Gordo / White Sands missle test range in New Mexico.  He worked as an aircraft weapons expert there before going to Germany and then eventually to Vietnam.

    He used to marvel at how every year the base would send teams around to rip the appliances out of the base housing and replace them with new units.  These practically new ovens and refridgerators were hauled out onto the test range and either buried by a backhoe or used for target practice by the aircraft.

    This was all done so that the funding would be maintained on the yearly budget.  If they ever told the government that they didn't need anything new, the money would be removed and they would need an audit of the housing to get it back.  By making it a standard occurance the funding levels were maintained.  I'm sure that they were also able to make a deal with a local vendor to get the yearly appliances on a discount which left them with leftover cash that could be applied somewhere else.  

    Just think about what else is probably buried out there in the sand.

    (if by "criminalization of politics" you mean politics being taken over by criminals, you are absolutely correct)

    by Drezden on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 02:16:24 PM PST

  •  The Cows say (none)
    Eat more fish!

    "Everyone should go back to Africa, especially black people." -- Richard Pryor

    by COBear on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 02:17:40 PM PST

  •  Off the coast of San Francisco (none)
    at the farrallon islands the US dumped radioactive waste in the 50's, I believe. Oh yeah, its a marine sanctuary.

    It was never much of a secret, of course this is also where MK Ultra took place

    "The pen is mightier than the sword, but only at a range of greater than five feet" Malaclypse the Younger

    by buhdydharma on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 02:26:23 PM PST

  •  This is why we need to expand the war on terra! (none)
    We can dump toxins on terra in Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, and Syria and keep the water clean!
    <toxic dump snark>

    George W. Bush is dog shit on the shoe of America.

    by Sharon Jumper on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 02:27:29 PM PST

  •  Its worse than you think (4.00)
    Its not just the exempted from environmental regulation in time of war military, the ships loaded with munitions that were sunk or torpedoed close to coasts during the last sixty years, in world wars, covert actions, mine fields, target ranges, bases that just dumped all their garbage in the seas, oil spills and excess paint that was just tossed over the side, fuel spilled from planes that might have a problem landing, its also all the oil companies working overseas, the chemical companies, the third world miners that add mercury to their pans to help separate out the gold dust...
  •  Gulf Stream (none)
    Anything dumped on the east coast of the US would most likely get pulled to the northeast by the gulf stream along the coast of Canada and up to Greenland where it would then sink and return to the Carribean.

    I know there have been recent reports that show health problems in polar bears after they eat contaminated seals.  There are many pollutants which are fat soluble and get stored in the seals blubber after they eat contaminated fish.

    (if by "criminalization of politics" you mean politics being taken over by criminals, you are absolutely correct)

    by Drezden on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 02:31:15 PM PST

  •  Deep Water Fisheries? (4.00)
    Nice post.  I've actually worked on commercial fishing boats in the Mid-Atlantic Bight that have dredged up old artillery shells.  Most of the time, they're simply old shells, sometimes they're not.  I've even pulled out flight harnesses (luckily, empty ones) out of the scallop dredges.

    One fisheries point to note here:

    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."

    This supposes that no new fisheries develop that can effectively fish these deeper waters.  In fact, the fishing countries of the European Community have been developing deep-water fisheries (400+ meters) for the past 10 years, like the orange roughy fishery in the United Kingdom or the French deep-water shark fishery.  While the economic situation within the commercial fishing interests in the United States may not allow such fisheries development here, there's no reason gear-wise that it couldn't.
  •  The story can't be good for fishermen (none)
    or fisheries.

    Message to eco-vegetarians: buying fish is good because it makes even the pro-business set realize that there are industries tied to ocean health and watershed/river health. It puts dollar amounts onto ecological disasters like these, and some people only listen to dollars.

    Others listen to their bellies. When are we going to get a superfund to clean this up? Probably when a dozen children die from chemical weapons dumped at sea.

    •  Commercial fishing may be toast anyway. (none)
      Here in New England, once the richest grounds in the world, officials are in the process of tightening fishing rules as we speak. Only lobster is a really viable population anymore, but lobstermen rely on herring for bait and new tighter herring rules may complicate the early hardshell catch in August.

      Despite my loyalty to local industry and those fishy rugged individuals, I'm put right off most fish by that pesky mercury.

      In the practice of tolerance, one's enemy is the best teacher. Dalai Lama

      by leolabeth on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 06:21:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  And we wonder why whales (none)
    beach themselves.

    Bankrupting the treasury for a bogus war & destroying Social Security: Bushco has created a World War Economy.

    by mattes on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 02:53:19 PM PST

  •  Oil Spill (none)
    A tanker just crashed in Alaska and there's a spill.

    Story developing, not a joke

    (if by "criminalization of politics" you mean politics being taken over by criminals, you are absolutely correct)

    by Drezden on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 02:56:47 PM PST

  •  Otter Deaths... (none)
    ....maybe not so mysterious anymore. Can we stop blaming kitty poo now?

    Every good Christian should line up and kick Jerry Falwell's ass. - Barry Goldwater, 1981

    by Doug in SF on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 03:13:32 PM PST

  •  Talk about shitting in the ...... (none)
    bathtub. It turns out they have been doing it off the coast of Oahu and perhaps the other islands and not recording some of it, or as the Army/Navy says, they are "searching for records" of what chemicals were dumped when way back to before the WW1.  

    This is the legacy we inherit from an earlier generation of Americans.  

  •  Not just the US (none)
    The Russians have also been dumping nuclear waste into the oceans for decades.
  •  I guess.. (none)
    that I've gotten hardened through the years.  I just always knew this was going on...what else would they have done with it.  

    Much is buried under ground in our country and with all the development going on, it is going into the atmosphere, etc.

    Why do you think we have such a high incidence of cancers in people under 30 anymore?

    The planet is becoming horribly toxic.

  •  Methinks that the real crime here (none)
    was that this stuff wasn't used to kill terrorists.

    Geez, we can just affort to dump munitions in the ocean while Bin Laden is still running around in Pakistan?

    The world has indeed gone insane.

  •  Consider us lucky (none)
    France has a whole department dedicated to dealing with unexploded munitions. Farmers die in Western Europe on a regular basis every year when munitions are exploded in the course of agricultural activity.

    The old WWI battle lines are the worst - with THOUSANDS of unexploded shells still unrecovered - many with mustard gas and phosgene.

    But WORSE, in one of the great offensives planned at the ned of 1917 - the details escape me - tunnels were dug under German lines to Messines Ridge (?) where 5 or 6 HUGE underground "mines" were created.  Thousands of tons of explosives were piled up in excavated caverns deep under German lines.

    When the offensive began, the mines were detonated - literally blowing apart the ridge and leaving HUGE craters ...... something similar occurred in the US Civil War at St.Petersburg....

    Results were mixes - with advances later repulsed by regrouping Germans.

    BUT two of the mines failed to explode

    The war continued and the exact locations of the unexploded explosives "forgotten".  ONE of the "lost" mines exploded in 1952 apparently set off in in lightning storm.  Located in a primarily rural area the blast nonetheless had a devastating effect on buildings in the area.

    The remaining cache of explosives remains buried and unexploded

    North Africa is still littered with land mines, remnants from WWII.  Nomadic natives are killed an injured regularly.

    Southeast Asia, Africa, even the former Yugoslavia are littered with land mines from more recent conflicts. People are maimed and killed regularly.

    So... munitions dumped in the ocean are an issue but one better left as is.  Far safer that trying to recover them.  And people are not dying from direct contact with these munitions.

    Mankind would better benefit from removal of existing land mines.  Money would better be spent on that effort.

    •  I agree we need to remove every land mine (none)
      AND remove the toxins from the sea. If you will recall plankton is the bottom line from one point of view. Everything else up the chain depends on them, and it is absurd to think that so many tons of extremely toxic waste is not affecting every form of marine life out there, whether something is buried or not. The crabs are radioactive, eaten by the..... And yes, we should BAN LAND MINES IMMEDIATELY. EVERYWHERE!

      If not now, when? If not here, where?

      by Laughingcat on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 04:38:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think (none)
      we should get rid of all of them! I don't know very much about stuff like this, but can't we make a universal law that says when the war is over, whoever planted them has to find them and get rid of them and if you don't you get fined a bazillion dollars or something?

      Spies, Cries, and Lies: Brought to you by the Republican Party

      by Whitney S on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 04:47:10 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Oh my god (none)
    I am crying. Yes, I am truly sitting on my couch at my laptop crying. My roommates just asked me if someone died. This is horrible. Don't they have any respect for anything? I don't care if they come clean or not, anyone that participated in this that is still alive should be prosecuted. Anyone that has known about this and hasn't said anything about this should be prosecuted. It's been obvious that the army doesn't care about human lives, I guess I was stupid to assume they would care about fish and other beautiful creatures in the ocean. But, I'm still going to cry about it and then call everyone in DC I can think of.

    Spies, Cries, and Lies: Brought to you by the Republican Party

    by Whitney S on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 04:42:38 PM PST

  •  why does the news always make me want to cry? (4.00)
    what do we even do about this? nothing, right? or get mad and blog and tell our friends and family and write LTEs and then all that stuff is still in the ocean.

    it made me so mad, I heard that Polihale (if I spelled that right - end of the road on the western part of Kauai) was beautiful and it was the westernmost part of the US. So I drove there a few weeks ago (I was on the east side of Kauai already - not a far drive) and you know what I saw? Some bombing facility. It was supposed to be beautiful and a state or national park, I forget which, and the start of 11 mi of untouched pristine coastline... so our damn country figured it was a great place for some bombs. Ugh.

    By the way, check out - it's an environmental group in WI who is actually really going some good. Bushco is breaking some major laws with its logging sales and this little group is sueing them and winning.

  •  That's minor league. (none)
    I served on nuclear submarines.
  •  We don't deserve this planet (none)
    The species is too stupid to appreciate it.

    Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring over 40 years ago, all the signs were there then but we pay no attention.

    The fertility rate in males in Europe has declined since the 1950s by almost 50%. We end this mess not with a bang but with a whimper of apathy.

  •  Tit-for-tat (none)
    Wait till the dolphins start dumping their toxic waste on land - then we'll see gubmint action.
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