Sunken Ships, Loose Lips
Toxic goop leaking from more than one thousand sunken World War II vessels is threatening fish stocks, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, and other tourist destinations. The South Pacific Regional Environment Programme has begun cataloguing the risks posed by the 1,080 wrecks, which are loaded with such toxic goodies as chemicals, ordnance, and oil. Last year, up to 24,000 gallons of fuel spilled from the USS Mississinewa into a remote lagoon in Micronesia, preventing 700 islanders from fishing for their food. Another 5 million gallons of fuel remain onboard, threatening to spill from the rusty ship with each passing storm. About two-thirds of the sunken warships belong to Japan; most of the rest belong to the U.S. Neither country appears keen on footing the bill for the cleanup.