Staggering amounts of weapons dumped underwater, says expert

CBC News Posted: Apr 09, 2013 2:15 PM AT Last Updated: Apr 09, 2013 4:35 PM AT

Staggering amounts of weapons dumped underwater, says expert

A man from Cape Breton will chair an international discussion in The Hague, Netherlands, about the problem of underwater chemical weapon dump sites.

Terrance Long spent 16 years as a military engineer with the Canadian forces working in bomb disposal.

Long believes governments around the world need to face the fact there are thousands of chemical weapon dumps in the oceans and even in some lakes.

He said there’s a growing awareness in Europe, but Canada still hasn’t come to grips with the reality.

“It’s hard to explain why, but a lot of people, you know, if they can’t actually see the munitions they don’t think they’re there,” he said.

“Up until the 1970’s, ships would actually leave the United States, Canada, the U.K. and many other countries and basically dump munitions into the ocean. This same process took place all across Europe in most of the lakes after the second World War by dumping the munitions into the lakes, into the Black Sea, the Baltic Sea.”

Long said the number of weapons disposed of this way are staggering.

Decades of ships dumping unexploded military devices have resulted in 3,000 dump sites off the coast of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia alone.

Some of the sites are closer than many would expect.

“There’s one site that’s right in Sydney Bight. I believe it’s 12 miles out. That’s a major site. And that contains a lot of conventional munitions which are carcinogens,” said Long.

Long talks about an array of explosive devices such as mines, various types of bombs, and mustard gas which threaten the fishery and the environment in general.

He argues economies everywhere could be stimulated by launching a clean up of these dump sites.

Long said Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation would be well advised to invest in a clean up project to create badly-needed long term jobs.