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WWII Legacy.


algy
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Taken from 'The Pathfinder Online'

 

WW2 Wrecks Threaten Environment

 

In the heat of battle for the Pacific three Japanese oil tankers were sunk by American forces in Chuuk Lagoon in Micronesia, and largely forgotten about.

 

That was seventy years ago, but over the intervening period the wrecks have rusted away and there are now fears the tankers are about to spill their toxic cargo into the ocean. One of the world's leading experts on underwater corrosion says the tankers will begin breaking up within a few years and they have the potential to create a spill on a massive scale, comparable with last year's Gulf of Mexico disaster.

 

Our correspondent Mark Willacy travelled to Chuuk Lagoon and dived the wrecks to see for himself.

 

MARK WILLACY: Like ghosts of the past, they reveal themselves as you descend. Scattered throughout the maritime graveyard of Chuuk Lagoon are dozens of Japanese naval and merchant ships, each sent to the bottom during several days of American bombing in February 1944.

 

Thousands of Japanese soldiers perished in these pristine waters. The skeletal remains of some can still be seen on the wrecks. The ships are also littered with the weapons of war - massive 14-inch shells, Zero fighter planes, tanks, even an Imperial typewriter.The man guiding me through this breathtaking underwater battlefield is Micronesian dive master Gradvin Aisek.

 

GRADVIN AISEK: First time I dove the ship, I have a fear because I am thinking about seeing a ghost on the ship.

 

MARK WILLACY: But it's one particular ghost of the deep which is really haunting the people of Chuuk Lagoon and Micronesia, and that?s the oil onboard the three Japanese tankers slowly rusting on the bottom.

 

It's feared they could contain up to 32 million litres of oil.

 

Ian McLeod from the Western Australian museum is one of the world's leading experts on underwater corrosion. He's dived the wrecks and warned that they could begin breaking up within a couple of years.

 

IAN MACLEOD: The volume of oil spread out like that in a coral lagoon would have a totally devastating effect on the environment. It would be worse than the recent Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

 

MARK WILLACY: One of the four states of Micronesia, Chuuk is poor, relying on fishing, diving tourism and foreign aid. It doesn't have the millions needed to avert an environmental catastrophe.

 

Plus there's the issue of who has jurisdiction here. Technically these ships are a Japanese war grave.

 

Wesley Simina is the governor of Chuuk and he believes the Japanese and the Americans have an obligation to help.

 

WESLEY SIMINA: From our perspective I believe it is both governments? moral as well as legal obligation to do so, to help us out you know cleaning up this oil situation in our wrecks.

 

 

MARK WILLACY: Back out in the lagoon dive master Gradvin Aisek is taking me down to see the Fujikawa Maru, a 130 metre long Japanese freighter which was carrying Zero fighter planes when it was sunk by an American torpedo.

 

As Gradvin Aisek points out, it's a terrible reminder that just one rupture could destroy everything, from spectacular coral species to crucial fish breeding habitats - not to mention a peaceful tropical lifestyle.

 

GRADVIN AISEK: It would kill most of everything because if there is oil still inside and it can spread around the lagoon I think it will kill everything. I think my heart would be broken.

 

Algy says: How many more of these ships are dotted around the worlds seas?.

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"Could" "May" "Has the potential" the usual alarmist buzzwords. And notice how they say "up to 32 milllion litres" because that sounds a lot more than 30 000 tonnes? Of course if all that all appeared at the same instant it would be catastrophic, but crude oil leaks from the seabed all around the world all the time and is dealt with by nature. Sounds like a cause looking for some money to me :wink::wink::wink:

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"Could" "May" "Has the potential" the usual alarmist buzzwords. And notice how they say "up to 32 milllion litres" because that sounds a lot more than 30 000 tonnes? Of course if all that all appeared at the same instant it would be catastrophic, but crude oil leaks from the seabed all around the world all the time and is dealt with by nature. Sounds like a cause looking for some money to me :wink::wink::wink:

I entirely agree with what you say regarding "could" & "may" asperity but in this particular instance they are refering to oil tankers sinking in a lagoon that would increase the severity to the ecological impact of a discharge.

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The liklihood is that the oil has been leaking since the day they sank over 60 years ago. There are thousands of ships littering the sea bed leaking oil, but its small fry compared to natural seepage. It's a fishing expedition - fishing for gullible cash hand outs :wink::wink::wink:

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