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Risk Mitigation of Chemical Munitions in a Deep-Water Geohazard Assessment

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The Department of Defense is currently conducting a review of archival information in an attempt to verify the types, quantities, and locations of chemical warfare material and conventional munitions disposed of by the Department of Defense (DoD) in waters of the United States, in accordance with Section 314 of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2007 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), and report the results of that review annually in the Defense Environmental Programs Annual Report to Congress. Previous to this effort, disposal of military munitions, including chemical warfare materials (CWM) and conventional munitions, in the ocean from World War I through 1970 was done by many nations and was not well documented. A 2001 U.S. Army report entitled “Off-shore Disposal of Chemical Agents and Weapons Conducted by the United States” indicated that the disposal of CWM in the ocean through 1970 was more widespread geographically than was widely known. In accordance with Section 314, the DoD published updated information on disposals in the 2006 and 2007 “Defense Environmental Programs Annual Report to Congress.” Two directives implemented in 2006 and 2007, respectively, by the Minerals Management Service referenced an increased concern with unexploded ordnance (UXO) in deep water (NTLs 2006-G12 and 2007-G01). With the industry’s increase in deep-water exploration, the potential for encounters with military munitions is increasing. This paper will describe an unprecedented in-depth study that provided the oil and gas industry quantitative avoidance criteria and risk management analysis of CWM including drums that were critical during a routine geohazard survey in the Gulf of Mexico. During the underway period, a team of UXO technicians from AMTI, an operation of Science Applications International Corporation, located and identified munitions and drums in one of seven known dumping zones in 1,710 feet of water. Using their global munitions expertise and the information obtained in the previously conducted study, AMTI provided analysis of supporting conclusions and risk mitigation strategies, including in-depth decontamination procedures. The UXO technicians used proven risk assessment and risk mitigation processes and quickly assessed and quantified risk.
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Keywords: Chemical munitions; DMM; MEC; UXO; Unexploded ordnance

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2010

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  • The Marine Technology Society Journal is the flagship publication of the Marine Technology Society. It publishes the highest caliber, peer-reviewed papers on subjects of interest to the society: marine technology, ocean science, marine policy and education. The Journal is dedicated to publishing timely special issues on emerging ocean community concerns while also showcasing general interest and student-authored works.
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