The 1995 and 1996 surveys of Beaufort's Dyke were commissioned to determine whether munitions dumping operations at the charted explosives disposal site had resulted in chemical contamination of the seabed sediments or commercially exploited fish and shellfish species, and to determine the distribution and densities of dumped munitions on the sea bed in the vicinity of the disposal site The surveys were undertaken by the Fisheries Research Services, Marine Laboratory, Aberdeen, which is an agency of the Scottish Executive Rural Affairs Department (SERAD) The surveys were completed during November 1995, and March, May and July 1996, using the SERAD research vessel FRV Clupen

Samples of surface seabed sediment and commercially exploited fish and shellfish species were collected from the survey area, and analysed to determine the levels of selected explosive and propellant residues and a range of trace metals Prior to all chemical analyses, the seabed sediment samples were screened to confirm that they did not contain the chemical warfare agents phosgene or mustard gas, or contain elemental phosphorus, which was a component of the Incendiary devices that were stranded on the Scottish, Northern Irish and Republic of Ireland coastlines during the autumn of 1995 The explosive and propellant residue and trace metal analyses confirmed that munitions dumping operations had not resulted in chemical contamination of the surface seabed sediments or the edible flesh of commercially exploited fish and shellfish species The screening analyses confirmed that the seabed sediments did not contain phosgene, mustard gas or elemental phosphorous

Side-scan sonar, magnetometer, underwater television and pulse induction surveys were undertaken to map the distribution and densities of dumped munitions Combination of the survey data confirmed that the centre of distribution of munitions and munitions-related materials was located within, and immediately adjacent to, the northeast sector of the explosives disposal site Large quantities of dumped munitions and munitions-related materials were confirmed to be located outside the charted boundary of the explosives disposal site, in an area adjacent to the northeast sector of the site Moderate quantities of unidentified man-made debris, probably related to munitions dumping operations, were detected in two smaller areas outside the boundary of the disposal site, adjacent to the west and southwest sectors of the site


During and after both World Wars, large quantities of weapons, munitions and explosives became unserviceable, and could not be safely dealt with by disposal on land A significant quantity, perhaps as great as 10 million tonnes in total, was dumped at sea Although the last dumping operations in Scottish waters took place in 1976, there is still considerable interest in this legacy In the summer of 1995, media attention focused on dumping operations undertaken at the Beaufort's Dyke explosives disposal site, and construction of a submarine gas pipeline which was to be routed to the north of the site

During the autumn of 1995, construction work began on the gas pipeline, and this coincided with the stranding of large numbers of phosphorous devices on the coastlines of the Firth of Clyde, North Channel and northern Irish Sea Initially

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