As if drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico isn’t hazardous enough (see: Deepwater Horizon oil spill), it appears that yet another factor is at work making things even more difficult: unexploded ordnance.
After World War II the U.S. government, like many other governments, started dumping unexploded bombs into lakes, rivers, and oceans up until 1970 when such action was made illegal under international treaties.
Millions of kilograms of ordnance, which included explosives, nerve gas, and mustard gas, was dumped into designated areas in the oceans, including the Gulf of Mexico, quite legally and within the limits of those specified areas.
However records of where the munitions were dumped are sketchy at best, and incomplete or missing at worst, and according to OilPrice, many experts believe nobody is quite sure how much was dumped outside the established boundaries, and if they still pose a threat to humans and sea life.
Drilling technology allows for oil companies to reach deeply into the sea for wells, and the unexploded cargo poses a threat to those drilling into the Gulf. Texas A&M University professor William Bryant said that he’d come across bombs off the coast of Texas, and that at least one pipeline in the Gulf of Mexico lies across a known chemical weapons dump site.
The problem is not confined to the U.S., as in 2011 BP (NYSE:BP) was forced to close down its Forties crude oil pipe in the North Sea after finding unexploded German mines next to one of its pipes.
-Written by InvestorPlace staff