"The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has some fresh news from World War II: Thirteen Merchant Marine ships sunk by the German navy in the Battle of the Atlantic threaten to release oil from their watery graves."
"The finding comes in an assessment presented to the Coast Guard that analyzed 20,000 shipwrecks in US waters, and identified 36 as posing a significant threat of oil pollution. Seventeen of those are recommended for further assessment, which could lead to missions to remove their fuel oil and oil cargo. Besides the Merchant Marine vessels, the worrisome ships include a barge lost in bad weather in 1936; two ships sunk in separate collisions in 1947 and 1952; and a tanker that exploded in 1984.
'This report is the most comprehensive assessment to date of the potential oil pollution threats from shipwrecks in U.S. waters,' says 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.'
An initial screening of the 20,000 shipwrecks found 573 that could pose substantial pollution risks based on the vessel's age, type, and size. Ships built of steel, made to be a tanker or to carry over 1,000 gross tons got on the list. Further investigation narrowed the number to 107 wrecks. Some were deemed navigational hazards and demolished, and others were salvaged. But most of the 107 have not yet been directly surveyed for pollution potential. In some cases little is known about their current condition."