UH team to study mustard agent dumpsite near Pearl Harbor

UH team to study mustard agent dumpsite near Pearl Harbor

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Sulfur mustard, commonly known as mustard gas or mustard agent, was a chemical weapon so insidious that it was internationally banned in 1925 and 1993.

There happens to be a stockpile of it sitting 500-600 meters below the ocean surface due south of Pearl Harbor.

Saturday morning a team from the UH School of Ocean and Earth Science Technologies will embark on the Hawaii Undersea Military Munitions Assessment.

"We're going to collect samples of sediment, basically sandy mud.  We're going to collect animals, shrimp, starfish that are actually living on the munitions.  We have a lot of sensors that basically go through the water column and sniff for very small trace amounts of chemicals" said Margo Edwards of SOEST.

"Is it getting into the sediments? Is it getting into the animals and is that posing a danger to those of us living in Hawaii?" she continued.

What they'll use to collect that data is an ROV, robotically operated vehicle.  The six month old machine has a pair of arms with claw-like 'manipulators' as well as multiple cameras and sensors.

The data will be analyzed in different stages.   "It's a spectrum.  Some of it we'll know right away, some of it we'll know months from now" explained Edwards.

Additionally, the UH team will be observed by international researchers, who are dealing with mustard agent dump sites in the waters near their countries.

"We have somebody here from Poland.  He's studying the problem in the Baltic Sea.  We have somebody from Australia here.  He's studying the problem off the Great Barrier Reef.  It's a worldwide problem".

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