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Posts Tagged ‘salvage

Cancer fears keep scientists from toxic beach – open to the public

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Ministry of Defence (MoD) scientists have refused to analyse radioactive contamination from Dalgety Bay in Fife because of the risk it could give them cancer…

The MoD has been resisting demands to pay for a clean-up of the pollution from old military planes for the last 20 years. It has persistently played down the possible health effects for members of the public…

Yesterday, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) found another 33 particles of radioactive pollution on the foreshore at Dalgety Bay, a few metres from a public footpath. One of them was small enough to be swallowed by a child, and was sufficiently radioactive to be a “cause for concern”, according to Sepa.

Last weekend, SEPA dug up a lump of radioactive metal near the footpath that was 10 times more radioactive that anything found before, and a serious hazard. As a result, a section of the foreshore has been cordoned off by Fife Council, and warning signs erected.

Since September, SEPA has found and removed more than 100 radioactive particles from near the footpath and from around the slipway of a popular local yachting club. That brings the total number found on the foreshore since 1990 to more than 1800.

Dalgety Bay was the site of the old Donibristle military airfield, where a large number of aircraft were dismantled after the end of the second world war. The dials in the planes were painted with luminous, radioactive radium so they could be read at night. The dials were incinerated and the resulting clinker dumped as landfill to help reclaim part of the headland on the bay. Radioactive contamination in the area was discovered by accident in 1990…

The MoD’s fear of working with the contamination has been uncovered by the minutes of a meeting in Edinburgh of the Dalgety Bay Risk Assessment Group in March 2009…

“It was unbelievable,” said Paul Dale yesterday. “They were saying that it would be hazardous for scientists, but not for children on the beach…”

The MoD’s refusal to monitor the pollution meant that SEPA had to conduct its own surveys, resulting in the recent finds. Sepa’s scientists will return to the foreshore today, and later this week, to check for more contamination.

Almost 20 years after discovery of radioactive contamination at the beach, the Ministry of Defense is still trying to stonewall responsibility, public concerns and avoid spending a penny on legitimate concerns for public safety.

Seems perfectly reasonable to me. After all, I live downhill from the National Laboratories at Los Alamos. This is standard behavior from the designers and manufacturers of death and destruction.

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Written by Ed Campbell

October 17, 2011 at 6:00 am

Treasure hunters find wartime wreck with $210 million in silver aboard

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The wreck of a British cargo ship carrying 7 million ounces of silver that was torpedoed by a German U-boat in 1941 has been identified. Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc., announced Monday that it had located and verified the wreck of the SS Gairsoppa approximately 300 miles west of the Irish coast. The ship lies approximately 3 miles beneath the surface of the North Atlantic.

The Gairsoppa, a 412-foot steel-hulled cargo ship, was in transit from Calcutta to London on February 17, 1941 with 85 people on board when it strayed from a convoy. A German submarine attacked, sinking the ship. Lifeboats were launched, but only the second officer, who washed ashore, survived.

The ship’s manifest included 2,600 tons of pig iron, and 1,765 tons of tea — and a cargo of silver ingots — which was valued then at 600,000 pounds. At today’s prices the silver would be valued at about 150 million pounds, or more than $210 million.

Because the silver shipment was insured by the U.K. government, bids were solicited for locating and salvaging the wreck. If recovered, the silver would represent the largest known precious metal cargo ever salvaged from the sea.

Under its agreement with the U.K. government, Odyssey will retain 80% of the net salved value of the silver bullion recovered.

My favorite kind of deep-sea fishing.

Written by Ed Campbell

September 27, 2011 at 6:00 am

Odyssey salvage team finds wreck of the HMS Victory

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Daylife/AFP/Getty Images

The wreck of one of the most famous ships in British naval history has been discovered by a controversial US marine salvage company – a find that will fuel a major row about the UK’s heritage.

HMS Victory, a warship known as “the finest ship in the world“, went down with all hands in 1744 off the Channel Islands and its exact location has remained a mystery for more than 250 years.

But now Odyssey Marine Exploration claims it has proof of the whereabouts of the wooden wreck, in which 1,100 seamen died during a fierce storm. The valuable remains, including 100 brass cannon, would be worth hundreds of thousands of pounds today. After weeks of secrecy, Odyssey, an American based commercial company which is regularly accused of exploiting historic shipwrecks, plans to unveil artefacts retrieved from the wreck…

Although the ship is thought to have been rediscovered in international waters, it is a military wreck and therefore protected by “sovereign immunity” and so officially belongs to the state. If the British government decides to allow Odyssey to salvage the wreck for commercial gain, it will be flouting the rules of the appendix to a Unesco convention on nautical archaeology which aims to protect international heritage. Britain has not yet signed up to the full international convention, but it has formally agreed to follow the guidelines laid down…

The doomed flagship, which was returning from the Mediterranean after a skirmish with the French fleet, went down on 4 October 1744 after becoming separated from accompanying vessels. It is thought to have sunk after hitting Black Rock on the Casquets, off the island of Alderney. Not a soul survived. The ship’s last moments were immortalised in an oil painting by Peter Monamy now at the National Maritime Museum.

The important part is that students of history and science have access to what will be recovered. Certainly, Odyssey and their investors are entitled to as much of a reward for their work as they can reasonably acquire. I’m really not too concerned over a government deciding which laws to obey and which to refuse – depending upon the moment’s requirements.

Written by Ed Campbell

February 2, 2009 at 4:00 pm

Posted in Earth, History

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