May 2017

Newsletter #1

DAIMON is an international project dealing with munitions dumped in the Baltic Sea. Partners from Poland, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Lithuania and Russia are cooperating with experts worldwide in order to solve this transboundary challenge.
The project is part-financed by the EU INTERREG Baltic Sea Region Programme 2014-2020.

If you are interested in their latest findings, read on:

What’s new at the Maseskar dump site

In Sweden environmental and maritime authorities collaborate closely with Chalmers University of Technology to better understand the activities, contamination levels and risks at the munition dump sites. 

Bottom trawling is frequent around the wrecks at the Maseskar dump site West of Sweden. Data from AIS (Automatic Identification System) transmitters on-board of trawlers gave evidence of at least 100 passages per year.


Left: AIS tracks from trawlers fishing at the Maseskar dump site. The brown marked areas are locations with identified wrecks and spread out objects on the bottom. Right: zoom in, using side scan sonar, on one of the brown marked areas with trawling tracks visible.

An instrument deployed at the sea floor gave evidence of how trawlers re-suspend bottom sediments up to 40 m above the bottom. These particles are then transported with the currents.

Surveys in the area from more than 20 years ago by the Geological Survey of Sweden (SGU) have shown elevated arsenic concentrations downstream of the dumpsite (Figure to the right). The dominant current direction in the lower 50 m is NW and arsenic is a constituent of mustard gas.

Although it is likely that trawling contributes to the spreading of arsenic, up to now it is not prohibited to trawl.

Also, traces of other chemical warfare agents have recently been found in fish and shellfish around the Maseskar site.


SGU map from the 90s with arsenic-concentrations in the surface sediments. The highest measured concentrations are found NW of Maseskar, which is the main direction of transport in the lower 50 m.

Of the 20 animals that were examined trails of clark 1 and clark 2 was found in three of them. The levels are low, but these substances do not exist naturally and should not be present in fauna. Therefore the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management wants to see a fishing ban in the area.

In 2017 and 2018 DAIMON partners are planning to repeat the sampling and expand it on pore water analyzing and more fauna samples.  For the fieldwork a research vessel from the Shirshov Institute of Oceanology (SIO) in Kaliningrad will be used. 

Decision Support System: test users needed!


The team of TU Clausthal is working on the intelligent data analysis for the Decision Support System (DSS) for dealing with dumped munitions. This tool for risk categorization and decision aid will be empowered to formulate risk analysis, involving facts about the localization and overall state of the ammunition, the surrounding environment and biological pollution nearby and far away from the chemical source. Furthermore – based on the results of the DAIMON project – the DSS will suggest remediation scenarios.

We are currently working on the design of the interface. If you are interested to test the beta version and give us feedback regarding its user-friendliness, the kind of information or support needed, please contact us directly via e-mail.

Thank you for your collaboration!

Sampling mussels from a WWII shipwreck


Oil-spill combating vessel Halli


Dissecting equipment

Mussel samples were analysed in SYKE laboratory for Lysosome Membrane Stability (LMS). The results showed that some indication of biological stress was seen in the mussels which were growing on top of the depth charges (especially in those, which were collected from a cracked depth charge). Samples are also stored for further analyses e.g. oxidative stress biomarkers, as well as other explosive-specific biomarkers.

Scientists from the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) were provided an opportunity to take part in a clearance operation of a WWII shipwreck in the Gulf of Finland.

The Finnish Navy divers removed ammunition from the wreck in order to destroy them afterwards on land. Before the clearance, divers collected blue mussels growing on top of the depth charges. Immediately after sampling, the SYKE team dissected the mussels for biomarker and chemical analyses. Reference samples were collected from a clean site nearby.


Anu Lastumäki instructing the divers

Catalogue of dumped munitions

Polish Naval Academy in Gdynia is working on an online catalogue of all dumped munitions in the Baltic Sea. Entity relationship diagram and data model have been already finished and implemented. Currently, the functional modules are being tested. 

Example of a catalogue card

Example of a catalogue card

Administrator (PNA) will add, remove, change munition data. Registered users will be allowed to view data and filter it by performing multi-attribute database queries.

TNT exposure experiments

In close cooperation with the UDEMM project, coordinated by the GEOMAR Institute in Kiel, the mussel exposure experiments were carried out by AWI at Kolberger Heide in the Kiel Bight in March 2017. Blue mussels originating from a farm in Kiel Fjord were put in bags and translocated to transect around a pile of dumped sea-mines. Here, mussels will be exposed to TNT leaking out of the mines for about 3 months. In the end of June mussels will extracted and analysed for potential health effects deriving from the TNT exposure.

Simultaneously, lab exposure experiments started using blue mussels from the same farm. Mussels are held in aquaria under comparable ambient conditions as measured at the field exposure site. First, acute toxicity concentrations of dissolved TNT will be tested. Exposed mussels will be investigated carefully for adverse health effects using a battery of biomarkers. In a second step the chronic toxicity will be investigated using lower TNT concentrations over longer exposure times.


R/V Littorina


In situ experiments


Lab exposure experiments

Leakage from dumped chemical ammunition


Tomas T. Kjellstrøm is lowering the bomb model into the water tank


John Aa Tørnes and Tomas T Kjellstrøm prepare the water tank for the experiment


The bomb model was filled with a sugar solution with density similar to tabun

The Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI) has carried out laboratory experiments to find the leakage rate of chemical warfare agents from chemical ammunition on the sea floor after the bomb has been pierced through by corrosion. Simulant for the nerve agent tabun (GA) was selected. GA has been reported sunk in Skagerrak outside Arendal, Norway. GA is easily soluble in sea water and has a density of 1.073 g/ml (at 25 °C) while sea water has a density of approximately 1.027 g/ml at surface. GA is therefore slightly heavier than sea water.

We have constructed a full-scale model of a KC250 aerial gas bomb in aluminium with interchangeable opening sizes. The bomb model was immersed in sea water with salinity 35 g/kg in a sea water tank in the laboratory.

During these experiments, it was found that the leakage rate from an opening of 10 cm2 in the bomb model is much slower than the hydrolysis speed of tabun in sea water. Only 0.13 % of the volume had leaked out during 196 hours, whereas the half-life of tabun is 8.5 h at 20 ˚C in seawater. Most of the tabun will therefore hydrolyse before it leaks out of the bomb shells.

Case study in Skagerrak on wrecks filled with chemical munitions

Next DAIMON cruise with the r/v IMOR in Skagerrak is scheduled for June 2017. FFI has earlier carried out several surveys at this dump-site in Skagerrak, and has so far located 36 wrecks from World War II possibly related to chemical weapons dumping.The cruise shall start on 12.06 and will investigate up to three previously located ship wrecks S-E of Arendal, Norway.


R/V IMOR of Maritime Institute in Gdańsk

One of the wrecks (wreck no 13 at 580 m depth) are well known and was visited both in 1989 and in 2002. The two other wrecks (no 5 at 655 m depth and no 12 at 550 m depth) have not been visited before. All of the selected wrecks are heavily damaged and munitions fill the cargo holds and cover the bottom near the wrecks.


Syntheic aperture sonar image of wreck number 13 at 580 m depth

The investigation will include ROV footage of the complete wreck detailing any hazards. The survey will determine the state of the wreck and munitions. From that we can obtain detailed information about the wreck and how to best deal with the munitions. The ROV missions will be perform following working steps:

  •  Photography and photometry of underwater objects by ROV
  • Sampling of sediments and other materials
  • Analysis of collected material
  • Modelling leakage
  • Securing the operation against possible contamination

Corrosion of bomb shells

To assess rate of shell corrosion, DAIMON experts from Polish Naval Academy chose the method of coupon corrosion measurement. This method simulates activities on materials (corrosion coupons) in conditions which are equivalent to those for which we want to estimate the corrosion rate. For this purpose we had to define the type of material and chemical composition of steel, which corresponds, in terms of chemical composition and way of performance, chemical ammunition and barrels, in which chemical warfare were submerged. Following test specimens could be obtained from museums:​


German shell 75 mm Jgr. 18 AB - Russian shell 76,2 mm YKh 354 - German shell 105 mm


German barrel from 1942 and German bomb KC-250

Materials were tested in chemical composition using the X-ray Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy. Chemical composition was determined and, due to the observation under an electron microscope, also the type of steel. This data was used to recreate the chemical structure and technology of performing materials used for ammunition production.

Shells were also used in production of coupons for the purpose of testing the corrosion rate during the experiments.


Chemical structure of a shell


Corrosion experiment

Three types of experiments will be carried out:

  1. Laboratory experiment with water samples from DAIMON pilot areas 
  2. Laboratory experiment in the special chamber conducted with Military University of Technology in Warsaw
  3. In-situ experiment within the actual chemical weapons dumpsite.

The main objective of the research is to estimate the rate of corrosion of chemical ammunition and the current technical state of the chemical weapons dumped in the Baltic Sea. This knowledge will allow to estimate environmental threats and determine further risk reduction actions.

Modeling of contamination

IOPAN modelling group is currently focused on implementation NEMO ocean model (Nucleus for European Modelling of the Ocean) for the Baltic Sea. It is especially made for comparison between current Baltic Sea model (based on Community Earth System Model) that is already validated. We use exactly the same initial data, boundary conditions and boundary data. Thus we will be able to compare NEMO results with our operational tool. There are plans to add to domain North Sea also. The status of current work is that NEMO for Baltic Sea is working, first tests were obtained, and first results as principle components of the sea (salinity, temperature, currents) were calculated.

Also high-resolution model for estimating of potential leakage has been begun to work. It has 50 meters horizontal resolution. The model use external sea bottom currents, interpolates it for the high-resolution domain and the uses numerical diffusion-advection scheme for calculation potential leakage. It is in the test phase, but the figure below presents example of initial state and after ~100 seconds (note – the units and values are not important here).


Initial state and situation after about ~100 seconds of estimated potential leakage. Horizontal and vertical axes represent distance from the source in meters. Color scale can be interpreted as the level of contamination

Analysis of explosives 


Sample of a secondary explosive taken from bottom of Baltic Sea

As part of the DAIMON project, the analytic team of the Military University of Technology in Warsaw (MUT) performed analysis of samples of explosives taken from the DAIMON pilot areas. Analysis was performed using chromatographic techniques, mass and NMR spectrometry. The first study was differential thermal analysis based on the obtained results.

It was found that the tested explosive consisted trinitrotoluene (TNT), hexogen (RDX) and aluminum powder. Then the samples were prepared for chromatographic and NMR analysis. Obtained results during the nuclear magnetic resonance analysis confirmed presence of TNT and RDX in the samples also the several TNT degradation products were identified. The chromatographic analysis also confirmed the presence of TNT and RDX in all analyzed samples. These analyzes allowed for identification of five TNT decomposition products and polychlorinated biphenyls. Based on the quantitative analysis, TNT and RDX content in all samples were found to oscillate around 450 mg/g and 65 mg/g respectively. On the basis of experiments results, it was found that composition of tested explosives is typical for TORPEX. This composition was most often used during the Second World War. The presence of polychlorinated biphenyls most likely results from the type of paint that has been used to cover the interior of shell.