‘A Bridge Too Far’

‘The Boris Beaufort Bridge’ agenda is to the fore and we will leave it to you is it ‘flight or fancy’. Whatever…the project if realised it has to go across the North Channel and through one of the worst contaminated (if not they worst) sea dump sites on the globe Beaufort’s Dyke. Celtic League first started probing military dumping at Beaufort’s Dyke in the early 1980s. At first the UK were reluctant to share information but eventually spurred on by the frequency with which munitions washed up after cross channel interconnector work we acquired a comprehensive dossier of information that we passed to the Irish government’s Department over the Marine two decades ago.

Much publicity has been given to the one million tonnes of munitions in the dyke mainly artillery shells and aircraft bombs. But there are also ‘the nasties’ sarin and tabun gas originally destined for deep water disposal in the Atlantic which was disposed there when weather such as that which we are seeing now forced the vessels to ditch their cargoes. Phosphorus weapons from WW 2 and even mustard gas (Phosgene) from WW 1 are in the dyke. The dump started its life well before WW 2 and continued to take military waste until the 1980s. In addition commercial waste was dumped including nuclear waste in the 1950s (possibly after the Windscale fire – the time frame is right). Additionally commercial gasholder sludge from the UKs coal gasworks that were closed in the 1960s contaminated with arsenic was disposed of there. Who knows what’s in Beaufort – a vast site covering about 12 x 8 miles – I doubt even the UK government does. One of the weirdest disposals we logged was drums of contaminated flax seeds from an agricultural research establishment – it sounds like something from Putin’s Russia!

The relatively minor works on the interconnectors disturbed this festering pit of uncatalogued horrors to a small extent. Driving a bridge and tunnel construction via its northern extremity may throw up who knows what.

I hope they weigh the issue carefully before embarking on this ‘bridge too far’!

Link:

These items I did for Transceltic four years ago catalogues the impact of contamination of fishermen at Beaufort’s Dyke:

http://www.transceltic.com/…/irish-sea-munitions-dumps-dang…

http://www.transceltic.com/…/no-sea-monsters-just-nasties-u…

Image: Disposals – Inset area of dump site. Note Most conventional munitions were disposed of by a vast fleet of obsolete WW 2 LCTs operated by the Royal Army Service Corps and their activities are documented in the book ‘The Hidden Fleet’. Munitions were just crudely sent down ramps into the water with weather and inaccurate navigation leading to disposals outside the supposed parameters of the site. In the early post war period the dangerous work of loading was undertaken by German POWs retained in the UK for several years until 1947/48. Some vessels foundered including one near Cranstal north of Ramsey.

Bernard Moffatt

Assistant General Secretary Celtic League (12th February 2020)

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