Briefing in the European Parliament on munitions in the sea

Wednesday, 28th January 2015 (all day)

Location: European Parliament, Brussels, Belgium

This event is in the past.

Munitions in the Sea. What future for discarded weapons in Europe’s coastal seas and oceans?

Though both great European wars ended decades ago, their legacies still influence our lives in many ways. This is notably true for areas contaminated by munitions in the European seas. Millions of tons of unused munitions, including chemical and nuclear ones, have been dumped in European coastal seas and open oceans.

The negative impact on maritime ecosystems and human health are increasingly in the public focus. Beach visitors mistaking phosphorus with amber and fishermen catching sulphur mustard lumps have both been reported in the media. While some impacts are well understood, such as the impact of munitions on offshore wind parks or pipelines, many consequences, such as impacts on the food web and seafood for human consumption, require further research. Solutions to convincingly tackle these problems have yet to be found.

At the same time, the discovery of old bombs represents an encounter with the past, a past we have to remember especially in the symbolic years of 2014 and 2015. Long forgotten weapons are an important legacy of some of the most disastrous wars the world has ever experienced. Thus, artifacts also have an historical value, which deserve protection as long as they do not pose a threat to humans or the environment.

This briefing highlights how Europe’s history of war can be turned to a focus of cooperation for the future in the fields of detection and mapping, cultural heritage, environmental research, technical developments of remediation or blue growth. Against this background, it offers the opportunity to explore the potential of further EU research cooperation on the subject.

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