Last week Shelly Island off the North Carolina coast was evacuated by authorities due to what appeared to be an unexploded, heavily marine-corroded military ordinance—that’s a bomb to us non-military folks.
After a long day of concern, according to TV station WRAL Navy explosive experts determined that the object was fortunately a training ordinance from World War II. Shelly Island beach-goers dodged a bullet.
But according to James Barton, who is retired from the US Navy Bomb Squad and is considered by the federal government to be an expert on sea dumped munitions, intact weapons or ammunition content from munition dumps washing up on our beaches is not unusual. Chunks of chemical blister agents and “white phosphorous filler content” from expansive and aged military munition dumps have caused severe burns to unsuspecting civilians who pick up the colorful looking rocks.
Mr. Barton has now dropped a bombshell on the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). His submitted comments to the agency concerning seismic airgun blasting in the Atlantic are explosive.
Mr. Barton is blunt in his warning. If seismic airgun blasting takes place over munition dumps of conventional and chemical weapons, dumps can be up to 10 miles or more across, these ordinances that are “severely corroded yet otherwise stable” will be disturbed resulting in the chemicals within these weapons to disperse and wash up on beaches and migrate into dolphin feeding grounds.
The world might have banned chemical weapons and President Trump has registered his repulsion at Syria using them, but Atlantic Coast residents and tourists and dolphins are in grave danger if seismic airgun blasting is carried out without Mr. Barton’s recommended “exclusion zones” around these largely unmapped munition dumpsites.
You can read Mr. Barton’s comments and recommendations to NMFS here.
Frank Knapp Jr.