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The Use of the RUST Database to Inventory, Monitor, and Assess Risk from Undersea Threats

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The mission of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) is to serve as the trustee for the nation’s system of marine protected areas, to conserve, protect, and enhance their biodiversity, ecological integrity, and cultural legacy. A century of ocean dumping has left the world with a forgotten legacy of chemical and conventional weapons, nuclear waste dumpsites, shipwrecks, abandoned pipelines, and wellheads found in all ocean waters, including those of the National Marine Sanctuary System. The ONMS created the Resources and Undersea Threats (RUST) database to catalogue potential threats, including shipwrecks, munitions dumpsites, radiological waste dumpsites, abandoned pipelines, and wellheads. RUST data are composed of and synthesized from numerous databases and thousands of document files that cover the U.S. coastline out to the outer continental shelf; however, initial database population has primarily focused on the NMS System. These data sources combine to create a single, all-inclusive entry for each submerged site that includes but is not limited to positioning, site type (i.e., vessel or munitions dumpsite), ship/container typology, cargo, type and estimated amount of hazardous material remaining (e.g., oil, diesel fuel, mustard gas), and inherent risks associated with the site. Taking a proactive instead of a reactive approach to mitigating this risk will reduce response costs and diminish the threat of environmental and socioeconomic damages.
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Keywords: Databases; Marine sanctuaries; Munitions; NOAA; Pollution; Risk assessment

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2009

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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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