IDUM Associated Partner and Co-Director
CHEMSEA (Chemical Munitions, Search and Assessment) is a flagship project of the Baltic Sea Region Strategy, financed by the EU Baltic Sea Region Programme 2007-2013. The project was initiated in autumn 2011 and will last through early 2014. It has a budget of €4.5M, which is part-financed by the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund.
CHEMSEA Findings includes information on detecting, classifying and mapping chemical warfare agents (CWA) dumping sites in the Baltic Sea, the effects of CWA leakage on biota and sediments as well as contingency plans and guidelines for use in case of emergencies.
Goals that were formulated for the project:
- Production of detailed maps of the Gotland and Gdansk Deep dumpsites including location of munitions and areas of contaminated sediments and potentially affected benthic fauna
- Assessment of the toxicity of CWA degradation products to aquatic life based on in-situ and laboratory studies
- Development of a model predicting the magnitude and direction of leakage events
- Integrated assessment of ecosystem risks from CWA dumps
- Development of novel, unified methodologies for CWA and CWA degradation product analysis to be used in all Baltic countries
- Formulation of guidelines for different target groups for use when working with contaminated Baltic sediments
In the CHEMSEA Findings suggestions for how to incorporate sediments contaminated with chemical munitions into existing waste management procedures are included, pointing at specific risks associated with such material and available decontamination procedures. The overall conclusion stemming from the CHEMSEA project is that chemical munitions dumpsites, although not representing an immediate danger will continue to be a problem for the Baltic Sea. On one hand, they represent scattered point sources of pollution of unknown magnitude and difficult to control. On the other hand, they are a major economic impairment, making the Baltic Sea a less safe and potentially more costly area for investment. From an environmental point of view they present a risk for marine biota through chronic exposure, though not directly for consumers. If a steady pace of corrosion and leakage is maintained, the problem is long lasting but local, and eventually degradation processes will remove most of the associated threat. However, if leakage increases, the degradation processes will not balance the leakage and the problem may become severe.