Undersea danger drives munitions activist

Published April 22, 2014 – 8:03pm
Last Updated April 23, 2014 – 7:31am



Long targets munitions, chemical weapons

Undersea danger drives munitions activistTerry Long, shown in February on the Bedford Basin, says he’s passionate about creating awareness of the dangers associated with underwater munitions and chemical weapons. (TIM KROCHAK / Staff)

Just prior to next month’s fifth International Dialogue on Underwater Munitions conference at Saint Mary’s University, Terry Long has something else to do.

“I am one of the directors of NATO’s Science for Peace and Security program and we’ll be meeting to discuss a number of topics for a couple of days just before the conference gets underway,” said Long, a former Canadian military engineer and chairman of the international event.

While that might all sound impressive, Long, who was born and raised in Sydney, says it’s all part of his plan to help create awareness of the dangers associated with underwater munitions and chemical weapons.

“I am passionate about this subject,” he said in an interview Tuesday.

“We’ll have an open house for people from companies and students to come and see the kinds of technology being used and developed to rid our oceans, rivers and lakes of munitions and chemicals around the world.”

Long said he expects about 150 people to attend the conference.

“There will be delegates from about 40 countries, people from government, industry, military — these are international stakeholders,” he said.

Delegates from NATO, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the oil and gas industry and environmental protection agencies are among those coming.

Since his retirement from the military 10 years ago, Long has devoted himself to this work.

“There are concerns for human health and the health of fish stocks because underwater chemical weapons have been dumped into oceans, rivers and lakes and are constantly releasing chemicals,” he said.

“Chemicals released into the water create stress, liver deformities among the fish stocks and if you don’t clean them up, the fish stocks are gravely affected.”

Underwater munitions pose threats to drilling rigs and underwater exploration, he said.

“Collectively, there are things we can do about this and there are technologies out there in use now and under development,” Long added.

The conference runs May 28-29, with an international economic summit on marine, environment and defence industries to be held May 30.

Long said he hopes local companies will take advantage of the conference to learn how they can become a part of a global solution.

“There are opportunities for Nova Scotia companies in this industry,” he said. “This is a call to action through technology on an international scale.”

The conference presents an opportunity for industries and technologies of all kinds, Long said.

“We’ll have demonstrations of technology at the Canadian Forces Fleet Diving Unit at Shearwater using unmanned vehicles,” he said.

One of the demonstrations will include the U.S. navy’s marine mammal team from San Diego.

“They’ll bring two large dolphins to demonstrate munitions retrieval.”