A team of Japanese bomb disposal experts from the Japan Mine Action Service has traveled to Palau to remove unexploded World War II bombs lying dormant underwater. The team said that it intends to remove and dispose of hundreds of tons of undetonated depth charges lying underwater for over seven decades now.
Matsuko Ikeda, a member of the team, says that they will begin clearing and disposing of the explosives work by May. It is important to clear the bombs because they pose a danger to the environment and the locality. The corrosion of the metal has caused some of them to leak toxic acids into the water. The picric acid leaking from the bombs has been known to cause headaches and dizziness. Among the team are skilled ex-members of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force who will be wearing special diving suits that will serve as their protection from the toxic substances. They are estimating that it will take them a year and a half to finish the clearing operations at what they’re calling “The Helmet Wreck” site operation (after the nearby underwater shipwreck of the same name). While they’re underwater, they will also be surveying nearby ares to see if there are other sites near the island that might need attention as well.
The island of Palau was at the center of the World War II military actions between American forces and Japan. They fought in the Battle of Peleliu (old name of Palau) from September to November 1944 and had the highest casualty of American soldiers in the Pacific War.
[ via Radio Australia ]