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Researchers Map Military Munitions Dumped at Sea

Researchers with the University of Hawai‘i are measuring the impact of millions of tons of munitions dumped at sea over several decades.  In 1970, an international treaty better known as “The London Convention” stopped the Department of Defense from disposing of chemical weapons in the ocean.

The Hawai‘i Undersea Military Munitions Assessment (HUMMA) has been mapping the munitions in a region south of O‘ahu since 2007.  Researchers map the location of the wreckage, then take samples of sediment and animals surrounding the ordnance to test for high levels of pollution.  Although the wreckage contains chemical warfare agents like mustard gas, researchers say so far there is no threat to humans or the environment.  Dr. Margo Edwards is a marine geologist with UH’s School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology.

Edwards says there are still hundreds of millions of weapons dumped in international waters from other military forces.  The research was published in a special edition of the academic journal “Deep Sea Research II”.

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