Solution to clean up dumped chemical ammunition on the seabed

The current situation of dumped ammunition on the seabed was investigated, including the danger to public safety and the marine environment. A possible solution using technology currently under development was analyzed and recommendations made as to how this solution could be adapted to deal with the problem safely.
Dumped ammunition seabed

The aim of this research was to provide a solution to the ammunition dumps in the ocean that originate from the First and Second World Wars, including chemical munitions. The dumps are decaying due to the time spent in the hostile environment of the ocean. The harmful chemicals present in the shells can leak into the ocean and damage the environment.


The research that was done during this project mainly consisted of literature studies and interviews with experts on the subject. The risks and challenges involved with cleaning up a chemical ammunition dump became clear by investigating the content and location of the dumps. This made it easier to fit the solution to the problem. The aspect of human safety during clean-up operations was always the most important aspect in developing a solution to the dump sites. The result was a solution based on a contained dredging method currently under development. 

The method involves an air-filled chamber designed to prevent turbidity during dredging. The chamber can be placed over an ammunition dump preventing any escape of chemicals during the clean-up operation. Two major modifications to the dredging system were proposed. The first one was a fail-safe that can be initiated during the clean-up operations of the dumps. The fail-safe would ensure that the chemicals are kept inside the system if the shells break or leak during removal. The second modification was a storage container that can be removed from the clean-up system to be immediately treated on the vessel. This way, the dangerous chemicals can be neutralized without any extra steps. 

Further development of the solution is planned. The ammunition dumps are decaying more with each passing year, making it harder and harder to safely remove the dangerous chemicals.