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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 3/27/21

Wake up, Greta - the Baltic Sea is under attack!

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Message Augusts Augustiņš

Immediately after World War II, Soviet Navy ships disposed of thousands of tons of Nazi Germany chemical weapons in the Baltic Sea. After a couple of decades, they supplemented the existing dump with outdated Soviet chemical weapons. Most of the waste is located in the Gulf of Gdansk near the island of Bornholm.

It puzzles me why there hasn't been decisive action from the rich Northern European governments? Are the "naà ve" Baltic ecologists bad at their job of caring for the environment and raising an alarm due to the innumerable and futile deaths of porpoises? Are the worries expressed by ecologists really unfounded, especially during a time when the Russian gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 is about to wake up the chemical monster imprisoned under the polluted waters of Baltic Sea near Bornholm?

For almost 80 years, the chemical waste left by the Third Reich and the USSR has been lying in the depths of the Baltic Sea. However, it is now impossible to locate all the toxic containers, which only increases the chances of opening one of these "treasure chests" during the construction of Nord Stream 2 to Germany. Metal is very prone to corrosion in seawater, and it is also believed that the chemical aerial bombs in the Baltic Sea are decayed. Experts argue that it would require at least 80 years for this to happen, and 150-250 years for the outer layers of the artillery shells and mines to decompose completely. This means that the outer shells of the weapons or their containers have become very thin and fragile. It can be assumed that any movement near them could cause the chemicals to leak into the sea.

The most severe ecological harm is caused by yperite and lewisite which turn into toxic clot-like sediments, with the islands of Gotland and Bornholm being under the most risk. Chemical weapons pollution is nothing new off the coasts of the Guld of Gdansk and, sadly, LiepÄ ja as well. The largest concentration of toxic substances is located 70 miles off the amber coasts of LiepÄ ja. If the wind blows in the right direction for prolonged periods of time, it is possible to find dangerous substances on the coast, for instance, fake amber or phosphorus that combusts when removed from water. Most sources cite some eight thousand tons of chemical weapons being in the Gotland Basin.

It's well known that in the areas where chemical weapons have been dumped marine species are most susceptible to developing genetic mutations. We are yet to hear reports of mass deaths of fish and marine mammals, but there is no doubt that the animals and organisms living in the Baltic Sea have been poisoned. There is a reason doctors don't suggest eating fish caught in the Baltic Sea more than once a week. In any case, the food chain is sooner or later closed by us humans - perhaps someone from Bornholm, perhaps someone from Latvia. It should be noted that the Bornholm and Gotland basins are popular fishing areas where thousands of tons of fish are caught. The first cases of poisoned fishermen can be found as far back as in the 1950s, but there are plenty of "modern" cases as well.

Soviet archives contain detailed information on the chemical weapons that were uncovered in the arsenal of East Germany and afterwards plunged in the Baltic Sea:

  • 71,469 aerial bombs (250 kg) containing yperite;
  • 14,258 aerial bombs (500, 250 and 50 kg) containing phenacyl chloride, diphenylchloroarsine, adamite and arsine;
  • 408,565 artillery shells (105 and 150 mm) containing yperite;
  • 34,592 mines (50 and 20 kg) containing yperite;
  • 10,420 chemical mines (100 mm);
  • 1,004 containers with 1,506 tons of yperite;
  • 8,429 barrels containing 1,030 tons of adamite and diphenylchloroarsine;
  • 169 tons of containers with potassium cyanide, chloroarsine, cyanarsine;
  • 7,860 containers of Zyklon B.

The only thing that's clear is that water is unable to neutralize chemical weapons. And now the underwater dumps created by the USSR along with Putin's Nord Stream 2 pipeline now threaten the Baltic Sea Region nations, especially the inhabitants of Bornholm island and Sweden.

If the USSR had not decided to hide - for over fifty years, mind you - information about chemical weapons dumpsites in the Baltic Sea, Putin would probably be able to peacefully complete the construction of Nord Stream 2. Now, however, Russia may be forced to clean up the mess its predecessor made.

Those familiar with genetics won't need any convincing that the chemicals left in the Baltic Sea by the communist regime are more dangerous to the health of humans than radiation. I hope Russia, being the heir of the USSR, will be made to clean up the Baltic Sea from the chemical weapons. Otherwise, there can be no talks of completing the Nord Stream 2 project.

P.S. There are rumors that the Swedes have blond hair because they eat so much fish!

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Reserve Sergeant with the Latvian National Guard
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