Historic Disposal of Munitions in U.S. and European Coastal Waters, How Historic Information Can Be Used in Characterizing and Managing Risk

Until the 1970s, disposing of industry and government waste at sea was internationally accepted as a safe and efficient practice. Salvage, destruction by open burying or open detonation, and burial on land or at sea were the only options available for addressing excess, obsolete, and unserviceable munitions prior to the 1970s. Until the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter was enacted in 1972 and its protocol prohibiting sea disposal of chemical and biological agents was enacted in 1995, sea disposal of conventional and chemical munitions and other waste material was considered appropriate. A similar ban was contained in the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention. Two types of risk are posed by sea-disposed munitions. These are chronic - adverse health impacts that result from prolonged exposure to munition constituents - and acute - injury or death caused by either detonation or direct exposure to chemical agents. Sea disposed munition type and configuration; disposal location; water body depth, current and other properties; as well as water body usage (e.g. commercial fishing, recreation, pipeline construction) are factors in determining relative risk posed by munitions. More efficient investigation and management of risks from sea-disposed munitions may be allowed through collection, analysis, and sharing of historical information.


  • English

Media Info

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01154589
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Mar 30 2010 8:53PM