519 672 2121
Close mobile menu

According to the New Scientist, rusting ships sunk in the Second World War may be about to release a huge amount of oil into oceans around the world. It cites estimates that 8569 sunken vessels still contain 2.5 to 20 million tonnes of oil.  In comparison, the Deepwater Horizon is estimated to have spilt 1.1 million tonnes; the Exxon Valdez caused enormous and lasting damage with only 40,000 tonnes of oil.

When will the wrecks leak? According to the New Scientist, most ships sunk during the war were made of steel plate between 19 and 25 mm thick, which normally loses structural integrity once it has lost between 25 and 50% of its thickness, or 4.5 to 12 millimeters of steel. On average, steel corrodes 1 mm a decade, so by now the average ship would have lost 7 mm, well into the danger zone. Of course, the ships were probably also damaged when they were sunk, and several such wrecks have already caused significant contamination around the world.  The New Scientist predicts many more such problems in the next few decades.

Who will pay for cleaning up oil from a 70-year-old wreck? The owner of the ship,  who may be long gone, or the Armed Forces that sank it?  Since no clear legal rules apply, most wrecks just keep rusting slowly away.

News & Views

Blog

The more you understand, the easier it is to manage well.

View Blog

Bill C-230–A time for change

On February 26, 2020, Bill C-230, a private member’s bill, was introduced by Nova Scotia MP …

What if Britney Spears lived in Ontario? Examining agency and guardianships in Ontario

Britney Spears’ conservatorship, and the resulting “Free Britney” movement, has been a topic…