This JPI Oceans action on munition in the sea was first proposed by the Strategic Advisory Board in April 2014, then addressed by the Management board in April 2015 and finally approved in November 2015. The aim of the action is to assess risks, define priorities and suggest intervention options with regards to munition in the marine environment. The outcomes of the action will be used to support identification, monitoring and elimination of threats through a more systematic approach.
As a result of discussions between the most relevant stakeholders, it has been decided that JPI Oceans will conduct activities along three lines:
Science Support- By combining different scientific disciplines, JPI Oceans intends to support the development of a service to forecast changes in the sea state in relation to munitions. Simulation of the impact of removal, dispersion and detonation on human health, on the environment, and on economic activities will also be investigated.
Technology Transfer- JPI Oceans will analyse different technologies and procedures for intervention to support decisions by operators and policy makers. The development demonstration of technologies and procedures can be used to increase safety, improve the efficacy and reduce the environmental impacts of interventions. JPI Oceans will provide support to exchange findings between different disciplines, projects and initiatives.
Exchange of Knowledge- Panels of experts will support transfer of knowledge and experiences of dealing with munitions in the sea.
A. Science Support: provision of services to support operators and provide risk-assessment, through:
- use of 3D numerical models to provide meaningful data for the risks effect of shallow/deep water explosions, chemical leakage, diver visibility, sediment transport; impacts of blast waves and underwater sounds generated from controlled and spontaneous detonations; estimate of corrosion phenomena and consequences; recognition and identification of munitions, increasing the accuracy and efficiency in the post-processing of sonar and visual data.
B. Technology Transfer: technology transfer and development of new technologies for
- high resolution sea bed mapping, acoustic, magnetic and visual, measure sea conditions and marine ecosystems; mitigate effects of blast waves and underwater sounds from controlled detonations on marine life and infrastructure; autonomous and robotic systems, chemical sensors for aquatic systems and assessment of health of marine ecosystems; safety conditions for operations on the sea floor along with confirmed procedures to monitor the release of toxic compounds; protect current infrastructures and improve safety for new; avoid the introduction of potentially harmful chemicals into the human food web via aqua culture facilities; defense and national security.
C. Exchange of Practices and Knowledge
Science–to–policy transfer, with knowledge support to select best options; improvement of existing knowledge base, method unification and intercalibration; exchange of practices, unification of guidelines; improvement of personal skills of experts.
Large quantities of conventional and chemical weapons have been dumped in European seas throughout the 20th century, particularly in the aftermath of the first and second world wars as well as of the recent conflicts in the Balkan area. The problem of dumped munitions is understood within the European region, but they are not currently seen as a high priority for scientific research. Being a sensitive subject, it is sometimes difficult to coordinate activities internationally and across scientific disciplines.
Munitions in the sea pose a number of risks to human safety and wellbeing, environmental integrity and economic activity. Research into the effects of conventional and chemical weapons has shown the negative impacts on marine life, which in turn has implications for human health. Over time, the degradation of shell casings and containers leads to instability in dumped munitions. Coupled with the intensification of the use of marine space for economic and social activities inevitably increases the likelihood of harm. A coordinated transnational response could increase the efficiency and effectiveness of interventions by sharing experience and skills across Europe.