Monday, October 31, 2005

"Some" chemical weapons dumped in the ocean

Well, you can chalk this one up for next year's edition of Project Censored.

Lurking off Virginia are tens of thousands of mustard gas shells and hundreds of tons of radioactive waste in at least five ocean dump zones created by the Army decades ago.

Newly released Army records show that four dumpsites containing a hodgepodge of deadly ordnance are in deep water off Chincoteague, near the Maryland state line on the Eastern Shore.

A fifth is in very deep water off Virginia Beach.

A sixth might - or might not - exist. A former ammunition inspector at Nansemond Ordnance Depot in Suffolk told Army investigators in 1970 that "some" chemical weapons had been dumped in the Atlantic off Norfolk after an "incident at port" during World War II.

The Army says no records exist to verify whether that was, indeed, done; where they were dumped; or whether the weapons are in dangerously shallow water.

Years of records about dumping after World War II are missing. The Army has never reviewed records of World War I-era dumping, when chemical weapons were routinely tossed into relatively shallow water.

As a result, more dumpsites likely exist off the country's shoreline, the Army says.

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