Tons of arms dumped at sea
Wednesday 20 September 1995
The munitions dump in the Beaufort's Dyke trench, off Stranraer - which holds more than 1 million tons of bombs, rockets and shells, including 14,000 tons of rockets with phosgene poison gas warheads,is seven times larger than previously thought.
The dump has been in use for much longer than previously admitted - perhaps 50 years. The MoD has now said the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food will carry out an underwater television survey in 1996 to look for leaks or other contamination.
The true size of the underwater dump, is revealed in a letter to Duncan Shaw, chairman of the Irish Sea Forum, a Liverpool based watchdog. The MoD has said that the dump, which is 300m deep, may have been used for surplus munitions from 1920 to 1976.
Between 1945 and 1948, after the Second World War,135,000 tons of munitions were dumped there, in a tightly defined area. However, the MoD's letter reveals that dumping may have started after the First World War, and was probably not restricted to the area laid down in a Notice to Mariners in 1945.
It also says that other organisations may have used the area to dump toxic waste. Dumping continued at a rate of 20,000 tons a year until the late 1950s, and then reduced to 3,000 tons a year. The last dump, of 40mm Bofors anti-aircraft shells, took place in 1976.
The MoD also admits that in 1945 14,000 tons of 5-inch artillery rockets with phosgene gas war-heads were dumped in Beaufort's Dyke. Yesterday, Dr Shaw said these were unlikely to be dangerous, as phosgene decomposes easily in water.
More dangerous chemical weapons were disposed of in deep water further out to sea.The letter also details operation Sandcastle, in 1955-56, in which 71,000 quarter-ton German bombs filled with the nerve gas tabun were loaded into the hulks of three merchant ships and dumped between 2,000 and 2,4000m down, 80 miles north-west of Ireland.
Nerve gas was not invented until the late 1930s, and if chemical weapons were dumped at Beaufort's Dyke before 1945, they would have contained materials which decompose harmlessly in water, Dr Shaw said.
However, Paul Johnston, an explosives expert at Exeter University, told the Scotsman newspaper that the explosives could still be active and that shifting currents could disturb the acres of submerged munitions and that drums containing chemicals could corrode and leak.
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...
£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...
£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...
£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...