In 1944, at least 16,000 mustard-filled 100-pound bombs were unloaded off Hawaii in deep water only five miles from shore.

Several mustard gas bombs fell into the Mississippi River near Braithwaite, La., in 1945 and have never been found.

A reported 124 leaking German mustard gas bombs were tossed in the Gulf of Mexico off Horn Island in Mississippi in 1946 from a barge that returned to port a few hours later. The island is now part of Gulf Islands National Seashore, a popular vacation and fishing destination.

A 1947 dumpsite in Alaska's Aleutian Islands is only 12 miles from a harbor.


By the 1950s, the Army shifted much of its chemical dump operations north to the Virginia-Maryland state line and into deeper water.

In 1957, the Army dumped 48 tons of Lewisite off Virginia Beach, in 12,600 feet of water.

Four more dump zones were created more than 100 miles off the coast between Chincoteague, Va., and Assateague, Md. - tourist spots known for their unsullied beaches and populations of wild horses.

Dumped there in about 2,000 feet of water were at least 77,000 mustard-filled mortar shells, 5,000 white phosphorous munitions, 1,500 1-ton canisters of Lewisite and 800 55-gallon barrels of military radioactive waste.

It couldn't be determined what kind of radioactive waste was dumped. But there's one indication that it could be highly dangerous waste with a half-life of thousands of years.

National Archive records of the Army's secretive chemical weapons escort unit, reviewed by the Daily Press, show several shipments in the 1950s between a laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tenn.; other Army bases with chemical weapons slated for sea disposal; and the Yuma Testing Station in Arizona.

Oak Ridge was where thermonuclear weapons were being developed at the time. Yuma was a military test ground for weapons in development. Records show a shipment on March 7, 1953, contained 35,000 pounds of unidentified "classified materials."

The Army apparently stopped dumping radioactive waste in the late 1960s, the records show, when chemical weapons disposal operations again headed north in the Atlantic Ocean.

Two ships full of the most potent of all nerve gases, known as VX, were scuttled in 6,000 feet of water - miles off the coast of Atlantic City, N.J., as part of Operation CHASE. "CHASE" was Pentagon shorthand for "Cut Holes and Sink 'Em."

The nerve gas was in rockets encased in concrete before the ships were scuttled. The Army desperately wanted to get rid of these particular weapons. They also contained jet fuel to propel the rockets. The fuel had a tendency to "auto-ignite," or spontaneously explode.

The ships - the S.S. Corporal Eric G. Gibson and S.S. Mormactern - remain a potential danger. Although the rockets were encased in concrete, scientists don't know how quickly concrete breaks down from water pressure at such depths.

A third ship scuttled nearby is no longer a hazard: It blew up on its way to the ocean floor Aug. 7, 1968.

That ship, the S.S. Richardson, was filled with conventional high-explosive weapons and 3,500 1-ton containers of mustard agent mixed with water. It was on its way to the 7,800-foot bottom when a chain-reaction explosion went off, presumably caused by water pressure on one of the weapons that set off the rest.

"This is really quite disturbing," said U.S. Rep. Robert Andrews, D-N.J., who's been fighting Army plans to dump chemically neutralized nerve gas in the Delaware River. "I did not know of any of this. It's a very serious problem that state officials haven't been told."