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Science & Technology

U-boat wreck is dubbed 'underwater Chernobyl'

October 15, 2018 | Comment icon 9 comments



The wreck is leaking mercury. Image Credit: NGI / Norwegian Geotechnical Institute
With its 60-ton cargo of mercury, the wreckage of U-864 is an environmental disaster waiting to happen.
The Nazi submarine had been transporting advanced weapons technology to Japan during World War II when the British decrypted a secure communication about the mission and moved in to intercept it.

Code-named 'Caesar', the mission ultimately ended in the U-boat's destruction after the British submarine HMS Venturer torpedoed it following a three-hour chase in 1945.

The wreckage was discovered by Norway's Royal Navy in 2003.
Despite being neutralized decades ago however, the submarine now poses a new threat - that of its cargo of mercury which threatens to leak out and cause irreparable harm to local wildlife.

Metallic mercury is particularly nasty because it can enter the human food chain through fish and is highly poisonous if consumed.

In an effort to tackle the problem, authorities in Norway are planning to entomb the wreckage beneath layers of sand, rubble and concrete - much like what was done following the Chernobyl disaster.

Local newspapers have come to refer to the wreck as "Hitler's secret poison bomb".

Source: Times of Israel | Comments (9)



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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by paperdyer 3 years ago
OK, This has been known for 15 years that a incident will happen and now they are just starting to consider a plan.  Anyone else think this is a long time to think about thinking about the issue?
Comment icon #2 Posted by DanL 3 years ago
MONEY!! As long as they could put it off nobody had to pay for it. It is a little like a pot hole in a community road. Until someone offers to sue them it is allowed to just grow.
Comment icon #3 Posted by jgamble 3 years ago
Why is Norway on the hook  to cap and secure this mercury hazard, if it was 60 tons of gold you know Germany would be quick to claim it.  They should pay for and clean up this future hazard.
Comment icon #4 Posted by Unfortunately 3 years ago
Yeah this is definitely going to come around and bite us in the ****. Correct me if I'm wrong, but entombing the mercury-filled wreck is literally just postponing the problem to a later date, not to mention making a less destructive resolution even harder to find.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Habitat 3 years ago
If I recall, Germany did claim a large quantity of Mercury recovered from a lost submarine in the Malaysian area, in fairly recent times.
Comment icon #6 Posted by cyclopes500 3 years ago
I feel there may be a legal issue over this brought against the Royal Navy and British government by Germany in the ECJ. They'll claim the Royal Navy sank it and severely damaged the craft's structure in the process, and are therefore responsible for the disaster to fishing and poisoning of the whole EU and Russia. In the current political climate England will get the clean up bill, compensation bill, the legal bill, and fined heavily for cruelty to fish.
Comment icon #7 Posted by Aardvark-DK 3 years ago
Currently, Norway are planning, to engulf the sub in sand and gravel, to encase it. A bit like Tjernobyl....
Comment icon #8 Posted by TripGun 3 years ago
I say we scoop.
Comment icon #9 Posted by Doug1029 3 years ago
Mercury has a market value.  Salvage it? Doug


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