Terry Long believes the world is in great danger. And he’s on a one-man mission to save it.
The Sydney native and retired army engineer wants to open the eyes of politicians, international leaders and the general public to the hazards of underwater munitions.
Long says munitions found throughout the world are poisoning seafood, harming fish stocks and potentially creating health problems for humans. Many of the munitions, which can include bombs, rockets, grenades and naval shells, were dumped in the seas or oceans and have been left to leak harmful contaminants for decades.
“This needs to be an election issue,” Long said on Saturday on the shores of the Bedford Basin. “It’s a global concern. Munitions are in every ocean in the world and we have some of the largest munition sites — both chemical and conventional sites — off the east coast of Canada.”
Long, who is the chairman of the International Dialogue on Underwater Munitions, based in The Hague, was in Dartmouth to test some new equipment.
Using a Deep Tracker remote-operated vehicle as well as some passive samplers, he will be able to measure for the first time how much of which contaminants are leaking from the munitions in the Bedford Basin.
“In the past, we’ve been using electromagnetic surveys, cameras underwater, whatever we could to detect where the munitions are,” he said. “But we’ve never been able to tell if they’re leaking or not. What this passive sampler does is it takes real-time readings as the munition leaks.”
Long says there are more than 3,000 munitions sites off the coast of Nova Scotia alone, including munitions left in the water from the Bedford Magazine explosion in 1945.
After his stint in Bedford, Long will head to the Baltic Sea to carry out similar testing.
Long, who is also the co-director of the NATO Science for Peace and Security program, says Canada is not taking the issue of underwater munitions as seriously as it should.
“I have to look at what we did with landmines. We were able to develop an international treaty on landmines. … This is an opportunity where a Canadian leader could do the same thing we did with landmines. … And our government does nothing about it.”