Shipwreck report: which post a pollution threat?

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Thirty-six sunken vessels scattered across the U.S. seafloor — of the more than 20,000 shipwrecks in U.S. waters — could pose an oil pollution threat to the nation’s coastal marine resources, according to a new report by NOAA.

Of those, 17 were recommended for further assessment and potential removal of both fuel oil and oil cargo.

The sunken vessels are a legacy of more than a century of U.S. commerce and warfare, states the report, which was presented to the Coast Guard this week. They include a barge lost in rough seas in 1936; two motor-powered ships that sank in separate collisions in 1947 and 1952; and a tanker that exploded and sank in 1984. The remaining sites are 13 merchant marine ships lost during World War II, primarily along the Atlantic Seaboard and Gulf of Mexico.

“This report is the most comprehensive assessment to date of the potential oil pollution threats from shipwrecks in U.S. waters,” said Lisa Symons, resource protection coordinator for NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. “Now that we have analyzed this data, the Coast Guard will be able to evaluate NOAA’s recommendations and determine the most appropriate response to potential threats.”

To see a list of the ships and their locations, visit http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/protect/ppw/.

Click here for the full announcement with a link to the full report.