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Time bomb: Military ordnance in Gulf poses threat to shipping, says Texas A&M proffesor

Millions of pounds of unexploded bombs and other military ordnance that were dumped decades ago in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as off the coasts of both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, could now pose serious threats to shipping lanes and the 4,000 oil and gas rigs in the Gulf, warns two Texas A&M University oceanographers.

William Bryant and Neil Slowey, professors of oceanography who have more than 90 years of combined research experience in all of the Earth's oceans, along with fellow researcher Mike Kemp of Washington, D.C., say millions of pounds of bombs are scattered over the Gulf of Mexico and also off the coasts of at least 16 states, from New Jersey to Hawaii.

Bryant says the discarded bombs are hardly a secret. "This has been well known for decades by many people in marine science and oceanography," he explains.

He will give a presentation in San Juan, Puerto Rico Monday (Oct. 1) about the bombs to a group of oceanographers and marine scientists in a conference titled "International Dialogue on Underwater Munitions."

"This subject has been very well documented through the years," Bryant explains. "My first thought when I saw the news reports of the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf two years ago were, 'Oh my gosh, I wonder if some of the bombs down there are to blame.'"

Military dumping of unused bombs into the Gulf and other sites started in 1946 and continued until 1970, when it was finally banned.

Millions of pounds no one, including the military, knows how many were sent to the ocean floor as numerous bases tried to lessen the amount of ordnance at their respective locations.

"The best guess is that at least 31 million pounds of bombs were dumped, but that could be a very conservative estimate," Bryant notes.

"And these were all kinds of bombs, from land mines to the standard military bombs, also several types of chemical weapons. Our military also dumped bombs offsho

Contact: Keith Randall
Texas A&M University

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Time bomb: Military ordnance in Gulf poses threat to shipping, says Texas A&M proffesor
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