Re: @@ U.S. dumped tons of chemical weapons into the oceans @@
- From: "Arash" <A7000@xxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Fri, 4 Nov 2005 14:19:06 -0500
Newport Daily Press
October 31, 2005
Why the U.S. Halted Dumping
By John M.R. Bull
Scheduled sea drops were scuttled when Congress caught wind - and perhaps saved New
Newport News, Virginia -- The Army's ocean dumping of chemical weapons ended abruptly
when Congress learned what had been going on and halted an operation that could have
sent a cloud of deadly nerve gas over New York City.
In the late 1960s, a congressman from Buffalo, New York, named Richard "Max" McCarthy
learned that a shipment of chemical weapons was heading for disposal at sea. He
He had the prestigious Na-tional Academy of Sciences examine an Army plan to scuttle
a ship full of concrete-encased nerve gas off New York.
The scientists were aghast. The Army was called to the carpet in a confrontational
"That dump could have killed everyone in Manhattan", recalled Matthew S. Meselson, a
Harvard professor and an academy member who testified at the hearings.
"The Army had maintained this was very far into the sea, and they maintained it was
very deep - too deep for fish. That wasn't right. Our report put the kibosh on the
The dumpsite wasn't nearly as far from shore as the Army insisted it would be, the
scientists concluded, because the route the ship would have taken was more of a "U"
than a straight line from shore.
Scientists also determined that the water wasn't nearly as deep as the Army said it
would be at the dumpsite, supposedly more than 7000 feet (2 kilometers) deep,
Also, the plan to encase "a whole world war's worth" of VX nerve gas in concrete
before sinking the ship was flawed from an engineering standpoint, and the concrete
would not contain a catastrophe, scientists determined.
Scientists feared water-pressure changes as the ship sank would set off an explosion,
causing a chain-reaction that would blow up the entire ship, Meselson said.
That could have sent a toxic cloud high into the air, and prevailing winds at that
time of year could have swept it toward New York City, Matthew Meselson said.
A drop of the nerve gas can kill a person within a minute.
Newly released Army reports reveal that a ship with mustard gas scuttled off New
Jersey in 1968 exploded on its way to the bottom.
Long before the congressional hearing ended, the Army's credibility was "near zero",
The mood in the tense hearing was broken momentarily, Matthew Meselson recalled, when
an unidentified Navy officer offered an unsolicited opinion out loud: "That's what
you get for letting the Army play with ships".
As a result of the hearing, the Army pulled the plug on two scheduled sea dumps of
chemical weapons in 1970.
Two years later, Congress passed a law prohibiting disposal of chemical weapons in
In 1975, the United States signed an international treaty banning the practice.
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