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January 2023    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 49, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Decaying WWII Wrecks Threaten Coral Reefs

from the January, 2023 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Thousands of sunken ships from WWII are rusting on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, many still loaded with fuel. Earthquakes, storm surges, eruptions, or other natural disasters could trigger an environmental catastrophe if oil or aviation fuel gets released.

There was an incident last November when a magnitude 7.0 earthquake rocked the Solomon Islands. Oil soon lapped on Guadalcanal's northwestern shore in an area known as Iron Bottom Sound. Here lie 1,450 airplanes lost in action, together with 111 ships, averaging 2000 feet deep. The region is littered with lost ships, and years of decay are weakening fuel tanks and hulls, potentially releasing thousands of gallons of oil and other pollutants into the sea, damaging reefs....

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