Munitions expert addresses seismic surveys

Local News

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Officials gathered at the Maritime Center Tuesday to discuss the impact seismic surveying could have on underwater munitions.

“We’re here to discuss a challenge of danger,” said Mayor John Tecklenburg.

It’s a danger that lies within more than 17,000 tons of munitions with toxic material  dumped along the Atlantic coast in the mid-20th century.

The challenge facing these officials is seismic surveys for offshore drilling and the disruption they could potentially cause to these munitions.

The South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce has made a couple requests of the National Marine Fisheries Service.

“We’ve requested the location of all these munitions and radioactive waste be identified, and located. And that research be conducted to make sure that seismic air gun blasting could not dislodge or disrupt these toxic materials which include chemical weapons,” said Frank Knapp Jr., with the Chamber of Commerce.

According to a Defense Department report. there are 33 dump sites on the Atlantic coast. Five of them are off the South Carolina coast.

The exact chemicals in all of these deposits are unknown, but many are known to include mustard gas, arsenic, and cyanide compounds.

In another report to Congress, the Defense Department says that disturbing these sites would have serious consequences.

These officials say in places where these chemicals have already taken hold, the consequences are severe.

“On behalf of people already besieged by exposure to these materials and their toxic legacy, I beg you, don’t invite this evil ashore,” said James Barton, retired U.S. Navy Bomb Squad member.

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