Activist and author blogs about politics, energy and Earth's resources.
The hidden hazards of sunken ships
Shipwrecks are a ticking time bomb of oil waiting for the sea to finish eating through their corroded tanks.
Thu, Aug 18, 2011 at 02:07 PM
Thousands of sunken ships, many of them from World War Two, are increasingly in danger of releasing their collectively vast stores of oil
. In 2002, a team from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association ended a long hunt and closed in on the source of a long vexing oil spill off California-- a Korea-bound freighter named the Luckenback that sank in 1953. The sunken ship was releasing the oil through corroded pipes.
There are more than 8,500 possibly polluted shipwrecks in the ocean, 6,300 of those are from World War Two. Those ships are now around seventy years old and are starting to structurally fail more and more each year. According to one report, there could be anywhere from 757 million to 6 billion gallons of oil in sunken ships around the world. For comparison's sake, BP's Deepwater Horizon spill was approximately 210 million gallons.
Cleaning up all the ships just isn't possible. Many are too deep, others sit in exact locations unknown, while others lie in a way that financially precludes their clean up. Even the ones that we can clean are expensive, the cleanup of the Luckenback cost around $20 million.
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