WMD's Dumped By Army Off U.S. Coasts
November 4, 2005 7:51 PM   Subscribe

Decades of dumping chemical arms leave a risky legacy The Army now admits that it secretly dumped 64 million pounds of nerve and mustard agents into the sea, along with 400,000 chemical-filled bombs, land mines and rockets and more than 500 tons of radioactive waste - either tossed overboard or packed into the holds of scuttled vessels. These weapons of mass destruction virtually ring the country, concealed off at least 11 states - six on the East Coast, two on the Gulf Coast, California, Hawaii and Alaska. Few, if any, state officials have been informed of their existence.
posted by notmtwain (31 comments total)
By coincidence, one of our local stations ran a story on dumping in Lake Superior just last night.
posted by gimonca at 8:00 PM on November 4, 2005

And the astronomical cancer rate is still a big mystery.
posted by Jon-o at 8:01 PM on November 4, 2005

That should explain my two ugly heads.
posted by davy at 8:07 PM on November 4, 2005

The Daily Press, which originated this story, included a map of known sites .(PDF). They also have a photo-gallery.
posted by notmtwain at 8:10 PM on November 4, 2005

Also, I'm never going in the ocean again.
posted by Jon-o at 8:11 PM on November 4, 2005

Cue the sea monsters.
posted by soiled cowboy at 8:11 PM on November 4, 2005

My thread on the topic didn't get much traction, but this is definately one of the major points to the bigger picture of WMD's in today's frameset.

If you find an old mustard gas shell on the beach, and later, you are 'caught' with it, do you get sent to Git-Mo, or to some undisclosed location in eastern Europe?
posted by Balisong at 8:14 PM on November 4, 2005

Mmmm. Wormwood.
posted by weston at 8:14 PM on November 4, 2005

Sweet! Do I then get a pallet of non-sequential $100 bills to 'Spread Around' to soften the blow to my economy?
posted by Balisong at 8:26 PM on November 4, 2005

Just outside the Golden Gate
posted by hank at 8:47 PM on November 4, 2005

Yet another parallel with Soviet Russia. Could all the idiots who thing the Cold War arms race worked please stand up?
posted by Coherence Panda at 8:51 PM on November 4, 2005

If you find an old mustard gas shell on the beach...

...you'd be well advised to leave it the fuck alone.
posted by quonsar at 8:52 PM on November 4, 2005

Recently discussed.
posted by panoptican at 8:52 PM on November 4, 2005

If only this weren't so scary... I love the part about the guy finding ordnance buried in his clamshell driveway.
posted by notmtwain at 8:57 PM on November 4, 2005

They've been cleaning this stuff up for decades and have not even made a dent in it. I have been to places in Alaska where there are still minefields from WWII that they haven't gotten around to cleaning up yet. The decommissioning of many military bases has meant that the new land managers can get to grips with it though, so that's progress.
posted by fshgrl at 9:09 PM on November 4, 2005

The most disturbing thing I've read in a while. It's the fish and shellfish that are worrisome, they aggregate the toxins like a filter, we are the top of the chain -- so much for the "dillution" idea. D'oh!
posted by stbalbach at 9:29 PM on November 4, 2005

Some of us, that is, are at the so-called top of the food chain. We can easily choose to avoid the toxin-aggregation portion of this problem by basing our diet on plant foods.

But there's so much more to this story that is so infuriating, I can hardly find words; it's just mind-numbing.
posted by soyjoy at 9:51 PM on November 4, 2005

We can easily choose to avoid the toxin-aggregation portion of this problem by basing our diet on plant foods.

But they're so endangered and tasty!

Snarking aside, this really sucks - and I can't think of a way to decontaminate what's beend done other than wait for it to dilute and break down.

Jeebus - there are so many tight-arsed, ultra-conservative (risk-wise), and expensive regulations in disposing of laboratory materiels that are designed to absolutely minimize ecological impact. Many of these measures are far overblown. I understand why legislation may have ended up exempting the armed forces from following similar guidelines, but... shit.

That's all I have left to say. Shit.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 10:14 PM on November 4, 2005

You do realize that a big part of that 'expensive regulations in disposing of laboratory materials' are the only 'laws' keeping the population safe from such chemicals, whether they be chlorine dumped into the drinking water, (hey, it's claen, right?) or it's WMD's in the shellfish, or Agent Orange in the cow brains,...
It's these damn beaurocratic laws that keep fouling up everone's 'plan' that are the only things that are keeping us from drinking toxic waste. I have pretty good water where I live, but some places it's not that pretty.
posted by Balisong at 10:23 PM on November 4, 2005

(not directed at anyone in particular)
posted by Balisong at 10:24 PM on November 4, 2005

Army's Response On Dumping While, the Army's acknowledgement of the problem is encouraging, I would like to know how much of an effort the Army is making to clean up these sites.

Other related stories.
posted by notmtwain at 11:07 PM on November 4, 2005

The only reason Americans complain about this kind of thing is because they've never had it properly prepared. Sheiks, sultans, and two-bit dictators the world over would kill to have this stuff. Thousands of people are dying to get their hands on elusive (some say fictional) Arabic nerve gas, when the world's finest comes from right here in the USA! We're number one! The secret is all in the preparation - the trick is to not to overcook the clams - use a heavy skillet, and make sure it's well heated - more than 4-5 minutes and they get rubbery.

Here's my recipe for linguine al-Gadhafi.
1/2 c. finely chopped onion
1 canister fresh Delmarva nerve gas
1/2 c. finely chopped celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 (6 1/2 oz.) cans minced clams, drained
1 (14 1/2 oz.) can whole tomatoes, undrained and chopped
1/2 tsp. dried whole basil
1/4 tsp. dried whole oregano
1/4 tsp. hot sauce
1/3 c. minced fresh parsley
2 c. hot cooked linguine

Coat a large heavy skillet with cooking spray (be sure to use the CFC-free kind! That other stuff hurts the ozone); place over medium heat until hot. Add onion, celery and garlic; saute until tender.

Drain clams reserving liquid; add clam liquid, tomatoes, basil, oregano, nerve gas and hot sauce to skillet. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer uncovered, 4-5 minutes.

Stir in clams and parsley. Cook until thoroughly heated. Serve over linguine. Yields 4 servings. Suggest serving with an oakey Chardonnay to bring out the more floral characteristics of the nerve gas.
(On preview: Balisong, Cow brains with Agent Orange?!?! Do you special order that from the butcher, or is it something you can pick up at Safeway?)
posted by swell at 11:48 PM on November 4, 2005

Clinton's Area 51 exemption.
posted by Rothko at 12:03 AM on November 5, 2005

Rothko This exemption shall be effective for the full one-year statutory period. I bet Bush reinstated it ? Again and again ? Or is he a traitor divulging State secrets ?

That said under the cover of State secrecy tons of evils were done under any administration.

As for the nervine and other vile gas, it's the same old story ..some problems are dealed so that the effects will be felt only well after the death of the responsibles. Sometime this is considered as a reasonable solution, but it's only plain denial and people are suffering from it.

One aspect of it frightens me : while a single mustard bomb may do an hell of a lot of damage for a short while to relatively few people, I wonder if we'll ever know the combined slow effect of all the shit we have done.

After all Romans didn't know their lead plumbings were slowly but steadly poisoning them...lack of awareness didn't make the poisoning not happen.
posted by elpapacito at 1:32 AM on November 5, 2005

What a mess.
posted by brautigan at 2:53 AM on November 5, 2005

It is almost too much to believe. All this cancer in the United States... Innocent people dying.
posted by Dean Keaton at 2:59 AM on November 5, 2005

I need somethng to block metafilter when I'm drunk

Regulations for the disposal of hazardous materials are absolutely a good thing - it's the uneven enforcement of these good ideas that angered me.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 10:35 AM on November 5, 2005

Would it have worked better to have run all this stuff though high-termperature incinerators to break down its chemistry? Or would that have simply resulted in a bunch of other toxic substances?
posted by alumshubby at 11:09 AM on November 5, 2005

elpapacito: you should do some reading-up on leaded fuel. Compare various gene/disease problems with the increases in leaded fuel use. It's a little unnerving.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:27 AM on November 5, 2005

Maybe this is why there were all those squids washing up on shore in California. I think it was a year back or so. Anyone remember that story? Was weird.
posted by TwelveTwo at 1:00 PM on November 5, 2005

I'm gonna make some cute bow-shaped car magnets that say: Support Our Chemical Dumpers. Think they'll catch on?
posted by spock at 2:43 PM on November 5, 2005

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