At the end of April, the European Parliament passed a resolution concerning chemical weapons from the Second World War scattered throughout the Baltic Sea. The initiative, which was brought forward by Law and Justice MEPs Kosma Złotowski and Anna Fotyga, was supported by 660 MEPs while eight opposed the idea and 25 abstained.
“The EP, by accepting this resolution, confirmed that the issue of chemical weapons on the Baltic seabed has an international dimension and can only be solved through cooperation between state governments, the EU and NATO. Of course, we need financial means and research on technology for safe removal of harmful substances from the seabed,” Złotowski had informed.
He noted that countries such as Poland and the Baltic states were forced to search for solutions on their own for a long time despite the pollution in the Baltic being the result of the Allies’ political decisions and the activity of armies occupying the region.
Złotowski stressed that Russia and Germany bear the most responsibility for the current state of affairs, and they are expected to be engaged with the initiative much more than before.
In a conversation with the Polish Press Agency (PAP), an anonymous high-ranking official European Commission (EC) explained the details of the EC’s plan.
“In accordance with the inter-institutional agreement between the European Parliament and Commission, the EC will analyze the resolution in detail and respond to it in writing within three months. We treat this matter very seriously and will reflect this in our own plan to work towards zero pollution which will be presented next week,” she said.
The official assured that her institution is working with member states and other international actors to resolve the problem of conventional and chemical ammunition still present in European waters (and the Baltic Sea especially) prior to the inclusion of the 1975 London convention. She emphasized that this is an issue which poses a threat not only to the marine environment, but is also an obstacle for naval and trade activity. The European Commission encourages state and international actions against this type of pollution given the conclusions of the 2019 Brussels symposium on unexploded ordinances.
PiS MEP Kosma Złotowski pointed out that the Baltic Sea has huge economic potential which cannot be fully unleashed without the removal of ammunition, wreckage and chemical weapons from the seabed.
“I hope that this resolution, which was passed with a decisive majority and was beyond political divisions, will motivate the EC to find additional funds to clear the Baltic seabed,” he said.
“Everyone was shocked”
To emphasize the severity of this problem for the natural environment, professor Jacek Beldowski, an oceanographer of the Polish Academy of Sciences, told media outlet Gazeta Wyborcza that “a concentration of arsenic twice as high as in industry polluted areas was found in the Bornholm Depth which is where female codfish lay the largest amounts of roe. Everyone was shocked.”
Explosive materials, such as TNT, degrade into carcinogenic compounds and mustard gas degrades into carcinogenic, mutagenic and neurotoxic compounds, all which very negatively affect crustaceans and simple organisms, such as fish larva.