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Chemical Munitions Search and Assessment Project—Towards Creating Risk Assessment Tools for the Baltic Sea

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Abstract

Vast quantities of German chemical warfare agents (CWA) were stored in Wolgast, on the Baltic shore, at the end of World War II. Those munitions, together with others collected by allies after the war, were disposed in the Baltic Sea. Altogether, an estimated 50,000 tonnes of chemical weapons were sunk in the Baltic Sea. Official dumpsites are located in the Bornholm Deep, Gotland Deep, Little Belt, and Skagerrak. According to previous studies, several unofficial dumping sites exist on the transport routes from Wolgast to dumping areas and in the Gdańsk Deep (cold war dump).

In the years 2005‐2008, the interdisciplinary “Modeling of Environmental Risks related to sea-dumped Chemical Weapons” (MERCW) project performed mapping, (ca. 20% of dumping areas) and addressed some possible ecological risks in official dumpsites in the Bornholm Deep, Gotland Deep, and Skagerrak. The Chemical Munitions Search and Assessment (CHEMSEA) project aims to fill the gaps in MERCW research (mapping using new techniques, sediment contamination study, corrosion estimation), observing temporal trends in the ecosystem (compare present CWA and degradation products to that observed in MERCW), and extend this research to the largest unofficial dumpsite (Gdańsk Deep). Moreover, CHEMSEA will provide a number of guidelines for affected groups and stakeholders regarding operations in bottom areas contaminated with CWA and assess the probability, range, and ecological consequences of CWA release from dumped munitions in the Baltic Sea. The results of the project will be shared with the Helsinki Commission and the project’s partners and associated partners. The CHEMSEA is planned for years 2011‐2014.
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Keywords: Baltic Sea; chemical munitions; risk assessment; sunk munitions

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2012-01-01

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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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