Hazardous waste treatment urged for underwater munitions

Terry Long of Sydney, N.S. presented resolution to the UN

CBC News Posted: Nov 22, 2013 1:28 PM AT Last Updated: Nov 22, 2013 1:28 PM AT


Hazardous waste treatment urged for underwater munitions

It’s estimated the site of the S.S. City of Vienna off Sambro Island has up to 10,000 munitions (CBC)

A Nova Scotia expert on underwater munitions is calling on the United Nations to treat the weapons as hazardous chemical waste.

Terry Long, chair of the International Dialogue on Underwater Munitions, returned to Sydney this week after presenting his resolution to the UN.

He said labelling underwater munitions as hazardous chemical waste would help agencies determine what should be done with them.

Unused munitions have been dumped in oceans around the world. Decades of ships dumping unexploded military devices have resulted in 3,000 dump sites off the coast of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia alone.

“Ones off of Cape Breton for an example in 4VN, which is one of our rich fishing zones, you are looking at a documented  minimum of 80,000 tonnes of munitions. A lot of these munitions are carcinogens and they do have an impact on the fish and in return if we eat these fish, we also will have an impact from them,” said Long, who spent 16 years as a military engineer with the Canadian forces working in bomb disposal.

Fish off of Sydney have not been tested, but Long says research in the Baltic Sea found tumours on some fish.

Long said a study in the Bedford Basin found chemicals in a lobster fishing area three metres away from munitions.

A final vote on the United Nations resolution will take place in a few weeks.