Chemical-warfare materials dumped in the ocean after World War II have been discovered by scientists drifting closer to Polish territory than was previously known, United Press International reported on Monday.
A minimum of 15,000 metric tons of German chemical armaments were demilitarized by Russian and U.K. forces by being poured into the Gotland Deep -- an 800-foot-deep Baltic Sea basin positioned between the Baltic states and Sweden. The dumped chemical agents included mustard blister agent and tabun nerve agent.
Researchers with the Polish Military University of Technology carried out a comprehensive study of samples collected from the bed of the Gulf of Gdansk -- a southeastern bay in the Baltic Sea -- and discovered small amounts of mustard agent. They were only several hundred meters away from the Polish presidential resort near Gdynia, according to a report by the television channel TVN24.
"We found contamination in both the Gulf of Gdansk and in the Bay of Puck," which is an inner basin of the Bay of Gdansk, said Stanislaw Popiel, who works at the military university.
The university and the Polish Naval Academy are participating in the European Union's Chemsea project, which aims to track and classify all of the Baltic Sea sites where chemical munitions were dumped.
"If this data is confirmed, you either have facilities in the Gulf of Gdansk which no one ever knew of, or there is a far greater spread of these compounds in the sediment than we thought," Chemsea project coordinator Jacek Beldowski said.
Researchers believe the moldering chemical agent still represents a danger to the surrounding marine life as well as to nearby fishermen and beach-goers that might come across washed-up munitions.