Posted 20 апреля 2021,, 08:08

Published 20 апреля 2021,, 08:08

Modified 24 декабря 2022,, 22:36

Updated 24 декабря 2022,, 22:36

Chemical arsenal at the bottom of the Baltic sea: Russia knows how to avoid a global catastrophe

Chemical arsenal at the bottom of the Baltic sea: Russia knows how to avoid a global catastrophe

20 апреля 2021, 08:08
According to experts, at the bottom of the Baltic Sea there are more than 300 thousand (!) tons of chemical warfare agents - mustard gas, lewisite, arsenide and adamsite from the German arsenals during the First and Second World Wars. Their leaks threaten more than 40 million people.

The fate of trophy chemical weapons - in the investigation of Novye Izvestia.

Sergey Kron

1945 year. The Americans have not yet detonated atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Japanese were also secretly experimenting on biological means of destroying enemy soldiers, and the command of the countries of the anti-Hitler coalition was already racking their brains over the problem: what to do with 302 875 tons (!) Of captured chemical ammunition? As a result, they were secretly drowned at the bottom of the Baltic.

Captain Tereshchenko broke the silence

Today, with some relief, one can admit that fate has twice shown favor to the Soviet Union, and then to Russia. Firstly, only 35,000 tons of chemical munitions were found in our zone of occupation, which is 12 percent of the total stocks of chemical warfare agents in Hitlerite Germany. Secondly, due to understandable frugality, Soviet sailors, whose country as a result of the war lost one third of its national wealth, began to sink containers with "dormant death" not in the overloaded holds of old ships (as the Allies did), but scattered the containers with poisons along the bottom of the Baltic Sea near the port of Liepaja and the Danish island of Bornholm.

It cannot be said that no one in the world knew anything about the dumping of ammunition with toxic substances. Although all this was done in secret, and a few witnesses signed a nondisclosure agreement. But in 1997, the former head of KOPRON (Committee for Special Purpose Underwater Operations under the Government of the Russian Federation) Tengiz Borisov, on the personal instruction of the President of Russia, took part in a closed conference in Norway with the participation of representatives of NATO countries, as well as Poland, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. on the issue of German chemical munitions dumped in the Baltic Sea. After the report of the Russian delegation, the meeting participants asked to take a break, contacted their leaders, after which they stated that they were not authorized to negotiate such an important problem, and asked to postpone the meeting for a month and a half in order to have time to sort out the problem. In addition, a request was made to the Russian leadership not to publish the materials of their research until the next meeting. However, neither after a month and a half, nor after almost 24 years, no one got in touch. Russia, having received no answer, continued research on its own.

Not so long ago, a Soviet naval sailor, captain of the 3rd rank Tereshchenko, was still alive, who at the end of his life decided to break his oath and talk about how our ships under his command drowned chemical munitions in the Baltic Sea. His story then made a terrible impression on environmental scientists and journalists.

Be that as it may, in 1995, specialists from the Helsinki Commission for the Protection of the Baltic Sea (HELCOM), and Russian experts, having far inaccurate information on hand, experimentally carried out chemical measurements of water in the Baltic Sea and the straits. Experts then came to an unambiguous conclusion: there is no environmental threat from ammunition scattered one by one at the moment, and it is unlikely to be in the near future. At the same time, experts warned that the active release of mustard gas and lewisite into the water will not occur only if "the places of their burial are not disturbed, for example, with bottom trawls when fishing, explosive or other underwater technical works." It was possible to avoid trouble, the first searchers then believed, it was enough to follow the fishing rules, bypass dangerous areas, which are prudently indicated on all pilot maps, and not carry out dangerous work at the bottom.

Allies were less fortunate

In 1945-1947, the Allied military command partially implemented the decisions: the ammunition was stacked in the ship's compartments, then they took the old vessels unsuitable for repair in tow and took them out to sea. More precisely, not in the sea, but in the Skagerrak and Kattegat straits, which connect the Atlantic with the Baltic Sea. The deadlines were running out, they did not dare to tow the old steamers across the stormy ocean.

“They were flooded in four places”, - say the staff of the Atlantic Branch of the RAS Institute of Oceanology. - Moreover, there are no less than 42 such underwater burial grounds and no more than 65. Today, the exact coordinates of the last refuge at the bottom of 33 ships are known. (According to our data, another 18 were discovered by the Swedish Navy in the Ariendal region). The location of the others is still unknown, although they must be located close to each other".

Alarms have already sounded

The Marine Ecological Patrol, which also included Russian oceanologists, discovered in the fall of 1997 near the Swedish port of Lysekil the so-called “bottom concentrations” of toxic substances, first of all, mustard gas and lewisite, which were hundreds of times higher than the background level. Scientists did not panic, they sat down to calculate.

The President of the World Ocean Foundation, Doctor of Technical Sciences, Professor, Vice Admiral Tengiz Borisov, who initiated and under whose leadership a series of expeditions to the Baltic was organized:

- The prospecting work was carried out from the board of the Professor Shtokman vessel and for the first time using a special remote-controlled deep-sea vehicle. We have established that chemical substances are buried in huge volumes in the Skagerrak Strait. The shells are scattered over an area of about 10 square kilometers. In the surveyed area, at depths of up to 215 meters, numerous “chemical delayed-action mines” were found. The television cameras clearly recorded: hatch covers on the ships sunk by the allies were torn off, the sides were broken and, most importantly, shells and aerial bombs were still in the holds. They are there in bulk. Areas of damage to the casing of the aerial bombs are visible.

- Has it been established who sunk the ships in those places - the Americans or the British?

- Several years ago, a German war veteran Peter Gunther, in an interview with Western journalists, said that while in British captivity, he took part in the sinking of six ships with chemical ammunition. And at the same time indicated on the map the approximate places where this happened. Preserved video footage, where the former prisoner swears that the ships were sunk by the British. But there are no documents confirming his words. Thanks to witnesses such as Gunther, today we know where to look for shells.

We have to admit that the ammunition, "stacked" by the Americans and the British in the holds, is a delayed-action mine. Taking into account the rate of corrosive wear of shells known to us in seawater, ranging from 0.1 to 0.15 millimeters per year, it can be predicted: the upper rows will push through their weight the thinner hulls below the lying ammunition.

If we consider that the necropolis of sunken ships occupies a small area, and the forces of destruction act almost synchronously, the result may be a massive, or, as chemists say, “salvo” release of toxic substances into the aquatic environment, - said Vice Admiral Tengiz Borisov.

And this process, alas, is irreversible. A simple mathematical calculation based on data on the wall thickness of the ammunition and the rate of corrosive wear, allows you to predict when to expect big trouble. She may be knocking on the door in the coming years. The first wave of this ecological disaster will cover the Baltic and North Seas and the population of the countries of the region. Obvious damage will be caused by the introduction of forced quarantine on fisheries and the recreation and entertainment industry.

Since 2.5 million tons of seafood are caught annually in the Baltic and North Seas, the interests of 80 to 250 million people may be affected, both in Europe and far beyond its borders.

According to Professor Arnold Pork, President of the Estonian Clean Baltic Foundation (which has been cooperating with the World Ocean Foundation for over 27 years), budget losses in countries specializing in the extraction, processing and export of seafood will be innumerable. According to some forecasts, even if Russia is excluded, the Baltic countries may miss up to 30 percent of their total gross domestic product. The boundaries of the affected area will be blurred, since there are no closed ecosystems. And the circulation of water in nature will inevitably spread the infection to other regions of the planet.

At the same time, the expert is not talking about an oil slick spreading after the tanker accident, from which fish and poultry die. The enemy that all Europeans, without exception, will have to face is many times more terrible - the chemical warfare agents resting off the coast of three Scandinavian countries at once - Denmark, Sweden and Norway, have hidden, moreover, extremely strong carcinogenic and mutagenic properties.

Here is the opinion of the staff of the laboratory of genome variability of the Institute of General Genetics named after N.I. Vavilov Russian Academy of Sciences:

- Approximately half of the German arsenal of chemical warfare agents buried under water is mustard gas (or mustard gas), which with a high degree of efficiency causes damage to hereditary structures - genes and chromosomes, i.e., leads to mutation. This was established back in the late 1940s in England by Charlotte Auerbach and at the same time in the USSR by the scientist Joseph Rapopport.

Even the ingress of individual mustard gas molecules into the body can lead to harmful consequences - mutations in the body cell. For the current generation, this situation threatens an increase in the number of oncological diseases. It can also lead to an increase in the incidence of miscarriages in women and the emergence of children with various hereditary defects.

The President of the Clean Baltica Foundation recalled the results of the joint work of the Marine Research Institute of Virginia (USA) and the University of Gothenburg (Sweden), which declared the Baltic Sea the largest "dead zone". In the world's oceans, 405 such zones have been discovered, where the water contains an insufficient amount of oxygen to support the life of marine organisms. The results of this study were published in the journal Science.

There is still a way out!

Any attempts by Russia to offer the world community a solution to the problem by isolating ships with chemical weapons directly at the bottom immediately encounter desperate resistance from the West, which for one reason or another does not want to discuss this threat. Immediately followed by statements about the inexpediency and impossibility of lifting, transporting and destroying chemical munitions. Russian experts fully agree with these conclusions and have never proposed anything of the kind. We are talking about isolating ships that were sunk together with chemical weapons right at the bottom, without unloading them, or building sarcophagi.

According to Borisov, there are technologies that were developed by Russian specialists from the Rubin Central Design Bureau of Marine Engineering and other organizations that took part in the development of technologies for isolating the Komsomolets nuclear submarine. They are also suitable for isolating chemical munitions at the bottom of the Baltic Sea.

Until recently, Western experts, according to foreign media, have proposed various ways to neutralize the environmental threat: for example, to raise and reburial ships at great depths in the open ocean; open holds, take out the contents and destroy; cover ships with sarcophagi like the Chernobyl sarcophagus... Russian experts believe that it is very expensive or infinitely long and risky. At the moment the vessel or the ground moves, the final depressurization of the ammunition can occur.

“We proceed from the fact that you cannot touch them”, - Tengiz Borisov comments on the situation, - The fact is that the ammunition contains explosives that form picrates in seawater that are sensitive to shocks and shocks.

If the hour is uneven, when trying to unload the holds, take out the ammunition and destroy them separately, "a terrible thing happens" and all this explodes, then the liquid toxic substances will partially dissolve in the water, and partially settle to the bottom in the form of "smoking" jelly-like lumps, which will retain their toxic properties for decades.

Moreover, no country will consent to the export of these shells to its territory or through its territory for destruction. At the same time, on land, you can still make out what kind of OM is contained in what, and in water everything is mixed up - mustard gas, lewisite, and so on. Everything is rusted, it is impossible to read the inscriptions on containers and ammunition.

“And from the point of view of maritime law, these ecologically explosive burials cannot be touched”, - Borisov believes. - In case of various troubles, it is not clear who will be responsible. Who will insure the lives of the daredevils who will work in this hell?

Russian scientists have opted for the method of "encapsulating" ships right on the seabed. Today only our specialists have a unique technology.

The whole world has to save the Baltic region from the poisonous Nazi legacy, like 75 years ago. Our scientists are putting forward the idea of developing an international cooperation program to eliminate the threat from chemical weapons in the Skagerrak and Kattegat straits, the Baltic and North Seas, which for more than 25 years experts have called the Skagen project (from the words Skagerrak and genetics).

“Preliminary calculations have been made”, - said Tengiz Borisov, - Russia has the necessary, and most importantly, proven technologies, as well as qualified specialists who are capable of completing the entire operation of encapsulating sunken ships in several seasons at sea. It will cost 30 or even 100 times less than the alternative methods of neutralizing the "dormant death" offered by their Western colleagues. Russian know-how has a wide range of applications, with minor modifications they can be used to eliminate the threat posed by these and similar environmentally hazardous burials.

Technologies developed by Russian scientists, without violating any existing international agreements, will make it possible to simply, reliably and relatively cheaply solve this problem.

"From our point of view, this most important issue for millions of Europeans could be discussed at the largest international forums on the environment, including the upcoming conference on April 22-23 on the problems of climate change, to which 40 world leaders have been invited.

Despite the difficulties in relations between Russia and the North Atlantic bloc, it would be possible to tackle the problem of dumped chemical weapons within the framework of NATO's Partnership for Peace program, which is attended by over 55 states, including Moscow and Washington. At the moment, this framework agreement operates mainly on paper, although its title calls for active action in the interests of all of humanity. The participation of the leading world powers in the elimination of a very real and concrete threat will undoubtedly arouse the approval of the entire progressive population of our Earth", - said Tengiz Borisov.

“We propose to organize an international expedition to the burial sites of toxic substances, to assess the condition of vessels previously found on the seabed, water and seabed pollution”, - said Arnold Pork, President of the Clean Baltic International Foundation, in turn. - Based on the results of the expedition, it will be possible to organize a large-scale discussion of the problem with the involvement of leading experts from all over the world, to accept an appeal to the peoples and governments of leading countries demanding immediate measures.

"Our funds have been sounding the alarm for almost three decades. We have published the Baltic Appeal to the peoples of Europe and the governments of interested countries, but neither the United States nor Great Britain has yet responded to our calls to make public the data on the burials of chemical weapons. This would save a lot of money and, most importantly, buy time to develop projects to neutralize the threat posed by sunken ships with mustard gas, lewisite, arsenide and adamsite”, - said Arnold Pork.

The international action to save the Baltic will allow us to accumulate positive experience in solving such large-scale problems and extend it to the elimination of such threats anywhere in the World Ocean.

Our reference:

The International Fund for Ecological Safety of the Baltic Sea "Clean Baltic" was founded in Tallinn in 1993. Professor Arnold Pork established a foundation with a group of Estonian enthusiasts and public figures and became its permanent president. The goals and objectives of the foundation are to demilitarize the seabed of the Baltic Sea and the Skagerrak and Kattegat straits from chemical weapons from the First and Second World Wars. The headquarters of the foundation is located in Tallinn.

The International World Ocean Foundation, founded in 1994, aims to prevent pollution of the seabed and oceans from any potentially dangerous sources of pollution. Its founder was the Pobeda 1945 Foundation, headed by twice Hero of the Soviet Union, Air Marshal A.N. Efimov. Today, the World Ocean Foundation is headed by Doctor of Technical Sciences, Professor Vice-Admiral in reserve Tengiz Borisov. From 1992 to 1994, he served as Chairman of the Special Purpose Underwater Works Committee under the Government of the Russian Federation. In 1999 to Tengiz Borisov for his outstanding contribution to the elimination of the consequences the death of the nuclear submarine "Komsomolets" was awarded the title of Hero of Socialist Labor.

The headquarters of the World Ocean Foundation is located in Moscow.

From the dossier of "Novye Izvestia"

According to the World Ocean and Clean Baltic funds, in total the following are flooded in the Baltic Sea and straits:

71 469 250-kilogram mustard gas bombs;

14258 250 kg and 500 kg aerial bombs equipped with chloroacetophene, diphenylchloroarsine and arsine oil;

8027 50-kg bombs equipped with adamsite;

408,565 artillery shells of 75 mm, 105 mm and 150 mm caliber, loaded with mustard gas;

34,592 chemical landmines for 20 kg and 50 kg;

10 420 smoke chemical mines of 100 mm caliber;

1004 technological tanks containing 1506 tons of mustard gas;

8429 barrels containing 1030 tons of adamsite and diphenylchloroarsine;

169 tons of technological containers with toxic substances, which contained cyanide salt, chlorarsin, cyanarsin and axelarsin;

7860 cans of cyclone gas, which the Nazis used in the death camps to kill prisoners.