Around 1.6 million tons of old munitions are rotting on the bottom of the Baltic and North Seas and pose an increasing danger to people and the environment. Now a salvage platform is to be built with which it can be lifted and destroyed.
The federal government wants to start pilot projects as soon as possible to remove ammunition and warfare agents from the North Sea and Baltic Sea. "The dangers emanating from the old ammunition are increasing from year to year," said Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke according to the speech transcript at a non-public event. According to Lemke, work is being done on a pilot plant for the recovery and destruction of old ammunition. From circles of the Ministry of the Environment it was said that the start of construction of a salvage platform is planned for the second half of 2023.
According to the current status, the first salvage should take place in 2024 or early 2025. These are planned in suitable areas of the Baltic Sea - more specific information has not yet been given. Lemke pointed out that around 100 million euros will be available for ammunition recovery by 2025. In its coalition agreement, Ampel had agreed to set up an emergency program to tackle the salvage of ammunition and warfare agents from the North Sea and Baltic Sea, and to set up a federal-state fund for financing.
According to the minister, there are around 1.6 million tons of contaminated ammunition in the North and Baltic Seas. Most were from World War II. "For decades, the old munitions were hardly noticed. Neither the federal nor the federal states felt responsible for their removal," said the minister, according to the manuscript. The ordnance poses a significant risk. Fishermen find ammunition with rusted, partially open shells in their nets - pollutants from this can be detected in fish and mussels, among other things, and could get into the human food chain.