100,000 tons of Nazi chemical weapons at bottom of Baltic Sea: Reports
The corrosion of the materials will eventually trigger an environmental disaster.
Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza reported on Tuesday that up to 100,000 tons of chemical weapons of Nazi Germany left after World War II could be resting at the bottom of the Baltic Sea ready to trigger an environmental disaster as they corrode over time.
Gazeta Wyborcza wrote that between 40,000 to 100,000 tons of war-era weaponry lie at the bottom of various parts of the Baltic Sea.
"The exact quantity is difficult to estimate today," the paper wrote. "It is similarly difficult to precisely define all the dumping sites. After the Potsdam conference, soldiers of the Soviet Union who disarmed ammunition depots in Poland and Germany were responsible for 'neutralising' German chemical weapons."
According to the newspaper, the chemical weapons in question are mainly barrels of mustard gas, aviation bombs, and mines containing chemical warfare agents, mainly mustard and arsenic.
The article reported that research by the Polish Academy of Sciences between 2011 and 2019 showed that mustard gas bombs pollute the sea to a radius of up to 70 meters, killing subaquatic flora and fauna.
Nazi chemical weapons were buried in the Baltic Sea in the first years after World War II by the decision of a specially created Trilateral Commission, comprising the US, the UK, and the Soviet Union.
The Gotland Basin in the sea's center between Sweden and the Baltic states was initially selected as the main dumping site.
"However the route turned out to be too far for the Russians," the paper wrote. "Tonnes of barrels were thrown from vessels at random places on the convoy routes. Crates of chemical weapons drifted until the wood decayed. Later they were carried by the currents to sit on the sea bed."
A second selected dumping site was the Bornholm Basin to the east of the Danish island of Bornholm, where according to official Soviet records, around 40,000 tons of weapons were dumped at a depth of about 100 meters.
Dozens of tons were also dumped in the Gdansk Basin near northern Poland's Hel Peninsula.
Last week, it was reported that a series of explosions took place in a police depot that contained Nazi-era explosives. This incident sparked a massive fire in the Grunewald forest, which took many hours to contain.
Munitions dating back to World War II are not uncommon finds in Germany and other EU countries.