2009 Historic Disposal of Military Munitions in US Coastal Waters


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Overview of the disposal of military munitions at sea by DoD. History and other data that should be collected to characterize disposal sites.

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2009 Historic Disposal of Military Munitions in US Coastal Waters

  1. 1. Historic Disposal of Military Munitions in US Coastal Waters Second International Dialogue on Underwater Munitions Honolulu, Hawaii February 2009 1
  2. 2. Highlights • Definitions • History of DoD sea disposal operations • Reason for study • Using historical information in designing characterization studies • General references 2
  3. 3. Definition – Military Munitions Military munitions means all ammunition products and components produced for or used by the armed forces for national defense and security, including ammunition products or components under the control of the Department of Defense, the Coast Guard, the Department of Energy, and the National Guard. The term includes confined gaseous, liquid, and solid propellants; explosives, pyrotechnics, chemical and riot control agents, smokes, and incendiaries, including bulk explosives, and chemical warfare agents; chemical munitions, rockets, guided and ballistic missiles, bombs, warheads, mortar rounds, artillery ammunition, small arms ammunition, grenades, mines, torpedoes, depth charges, cluster munitions and dispensers, demolition charges; and devices and components thereof. (10 U.S.C. 101(e)(4)(A) through (C)) 3
  4. 4. Definition – Discarded Military Munitions (DMM) DMM are military munitions that have been abandoned without proper disposal or removed from storage in a military magazine or other storage area for the purpose of disposal. The term does not include UXO, military munitions that are being held for future use or planned disposal, or military munitions that have been properly disposed of, consistent with applicable environmental laws and regulations. (10 U.S.C. 2710(e)(2)) 4
  5. 5. Definition - UXO Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) – Military munitions that (A) have been primed, fuzed, armed, or otherwise prepared for action; (B) have been fired, dropped, launched, projected, or placed in such a manner as to constitute a hazard to operations, installations, personnel, or material; and (C) remain unexploded whether by malfunction, design, or any other cause. (10 U.S.C. 101(e)(5)(A) through (C)) • DMM were taken from storage for disposal • Less chance of functioning than UXO • May not have all of the components needed for them to function 5
  6. 6. History of US Sea Disposals • Military forces have always needed to dispose of excess, obsolete and unserviceable ammunition such as – Inventory following an major conflict exceeding available storage or expected need – Ammunition for weapons no longer in the inventory (e.g., cannonballs) – Deteriorating items (e.g., leaking or exuding) or those not performing as designed – Captured enemy ammunition • Disposals were generally conducted following specific regulations, policy, etc. – Done to minimize potential hazards – Locations reported to hydrographic office 6
  7. 7. History of US Sea Disposals • Disposal options were limited, particularly for chemical warfare materials (CWM) • Use as intended (e.g., training) • Salvage/demilitarization • Open burn/open detonation • Burial on land • Burial in water • Disposals included: − Conventional and chemical munitions, often co-disposed − Bulk materials (explosives and chemical agent ) − Other materials, such as radiological waste, may have been co- disposed 7
  8. 8. Timeline 1905 Earliest known sea disposal 1919 Earliest known sea disposal of CWM News articles on disposals 1944 – 1948 Large scale disposals of captured enemy ammunition and excess US inventories 1946 – 1961 LST 519 was frequently used for routine sea disposals 1964 – 1970 Operation CHASE disposal of 19 hulks filled with conventional munitions and CWM 15 conventional disposals, greater than 11,860 tons net explosive weight 1971 Secretary of Navy declares end of sea disposals 1972 Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act restricts sea disposal activities 8
  9. 9. Overarching Goal Manage risk associated with sea disposed military munitions 9
  10. 10. Types of Impacts • Acute – Explosion – Fire – Chemical exposure that results in death or serious injury • Chronic – Requires prolonged exposure – Example cancer • Can be human or ecological • Risk communication is a highly effective tool in reducing injuries 10
  11. 11. Characterization Needs • Where • Size of area • What • Quantity • Condition • Use of area 11
  12. 12. Disposal Locations • DoD policy and guidelines provide an indication of site locations − Authorized disposal sites ranged from 5 to over 250 miles from shore − Depths ranged from 50 to 16,000 feet • Designated sites − Were generally 100 square miles (10 miles x 10 miles) − May also have been used by others for disposal of industrial and municipal wastes • Formally established sites reported to hydrographic office • Accuracy in logbook only to nearest minute (about 1 nm) 12
  13. 13. DoD Policy & Guidelines on Disposals Year Distance from shore Minimum depth 1917 (Navy) “Totally unserviceable powder and chemicals … shall be condemned to be thrown overboard or otherwise destroyed.” It is unclear if this applied only to ships supplies or also included cargo. Application to munitions is also unclear. 1920 “They [CWM] should not be thrown into water, and care must be taken that they are not (War Department) buried near sources of water supply.” Prohibition may not have applied to saline waters 1928 (Army) Allowed to be “placed on barges and towed out to sea” 1941 (Army) Not specified Deep ocean 1944 10 miles Deep place or ledge sloping seaward (War Department) 1944 (Navy - OCONUS) Not specified 300 feet (April); 600 feet (December) 1945 10 miles 600 feet (April & August) (War Department) 900 feet (June) 1945 (Navy) 10 miles 900 feet (April), 3,000 feet for conventional munitions 6,000 feet for CWM (December) 1946 (Navy & 10 miles 3,000 feet for conventional munitions War Department) 6,000 feet for CWM 1949 (Army & 10 miles 6,000 feet Air Force) 1951 (Army) 10 miles 6,000 feet 1969 (Army) – Emergency 10 miles 6,000 feet Only 1973 (Army) Prohibited Prohibited 13
  14. 14. CWM Disposal Sites Unknown Under 10 11 - 100 11% 2% 12% Percent of chemical agent disposal by miles from shore Over 101 Over 10,000 75% 51% Unknown 11% Percent of chemical agent disposal by depth in feet Under 1,000 2% 6,000-9,999 1,000 - 5,999 34% 2% 14 Graphs based on net agent weight, FY06 data
  15. 15. Charted Disposal Sites 15
  16. 16. Sea Disposal Methods • Loose or “over the side” disposals – Disperses items over a large area – Items may penetrate well beneath surface of sea floor – May make targets hard to find on seafloor – Widely used method until WWII • Consolidation in hulks and sinking – Only method used between 1964 and 1970 – Large sonar target 16
  17. 17. Quantities • Events ranged from a few items to 1,000s of tons • Individual items could be a few ounces to 1,000 or more pounds 17
  18. 18. How Much CWM Did DoD Sea Dispose? Nerve (GB, GA, VX) 1% Mustard 55% Lewisite 36% Arsenic, AsCl3, Cl2S2 2% Blood (CK, AC) Phosgene Unspecified Agent 1% 0% 5% •Approximately 30,000 tons of chemical agent was disposed in US waters Data published in Defense Environmental Programs FY08 Annual Report to Congress (ARC), Appendix Q 18
  19. 19. Conventional Munitions Constituents • Common high explosive fillers (secondary explosives) • TNT • RDX • Explosive D • Metal components Energetic Materials Explosives Propellants Pyrotechnics Primary Single Base Flares Inorganic Organic Double Base Smoke Secondary Triple Base Tracers Composite Incendiaries 19
  20. 20. Drawings of Munitions • Show sizes of items in HI waters • Relate to detection equipment • Amount per release • Boxcar diagram • Corrosion time for shells • Release mechanism (drwgs from Geoff report) 20
  21. 21. Releases Depend on Breaching of Item Release of Low Solubility Fill It is just a matter of time Distribution of Releases Release of High Solubility Fill Figures after MEDEA, 1997 21
  22. 22. Condition of Items • Some items were in poor condition at time of disposal • Drums often failed on disposal • Some items remain in seawater for extended periods w/o corroding Corrosion Leak 22
  23. 23. Military Munitions Design • Manufactured to strict specifications • Information on materials and quantities are available • Minimum wall thicknesses are known and can be used to develop gross estimates of when breakthrough will occur 23
  24. 24. Basic Desktop Information to Support Characterization • Nautical charts for location and depth • Chemical fate and transport data based on knowledge of what was disposed – supports development of conceptual site model • State department of natural resources to determine current site usage • Journals or geological references for information on bottom materials 24
  25. 25. Planning the Study • Selection of acoustic, optical or chemical detection equipment based on: – Site area – Item size – Distribution on bottom – Depth • Selection of analytical suite – Constituents in items disposed – Toxicity – Persistence – Mass of constituents Per container Total 25
  26. 26. Best References on US Disposals Most up-to-date data on quantities and locations of disposals • Current Defense Environmental Programs Annual Report to Congress, Appendix on Sea Disposal of Military Munitions (www.denix.osd.mil) Overview of issues • U.S. Disposal of Chemical Weapons in the Ocean: Background and Issues for Congress, Congressional Research Service Report RL33432, 2007 Modeling of chemical agent releases • Ocean Dumping of Chemical Munitions: Environmental Effects in Arctic Seas, 1997 (www.foia.cia.gov) 26
  27. 27. Contact Information Geoff Carton Senior Analyst CALIBRE Systems, inc Geoff.Carton@calibresys.com 27
  28. 28. Dispersion and Zone of Influence • Physical properties • Rate of release • Toxicity • Disposal site properties (currents) A number of gross predictions on fate and effects can be made with knowledge of materials disposed and the location 28
  29. 29. Where Did DoD Conduct CWM Disposal Operations in US Coastal Waters? Carribean (1 site) 0% Atlantic (11 sites) 52% Pacific CONUS (1 site) 35% Gulf of Mexico (2 sites) Alaska 1% Hawaii (1 site) (3 sites) 3% 9% Graph based on net agent weight 29
  30. 30. Why Should We Conduct Historical Research? • Advance research maximizes efficiency of field effort • Archival research is inexpensive compared to field work • Historical information: – Provides a location for starting survey effort – Allows advance identification of munitions types/fills – Supports selection of equipment and analytical suite • Identifying disposal locations on charts is a quick and highly effective way of reducing unintentional encounters with munitions 30