U-864 at a depth of 150 metres. Illustration: NMF
The Norwegian Environmental Protection Association (NMF) demands that the government-appointed expert committee for U-864 should only consider what comes to the table on the basis of tenders for lifting. It is not the committee's job to choose a method. The tenderer with the best concept gets the assignment, and the expert committee can quality-assure the lifting for the least possible contamination and minimization of leakage during a lifting operation. The report to the expert committee should result in a requirement specification for lifting, so that the process does not drag on for years. A qualified subsea company in Western Norway should be able to do this job, with top expertise from the selected subcontractors. It is entirely possible to compete with the world's elite. There are probably ravens here on the islands and in the fjords. Short-term expertise and quick decision-making with high quality is the recipe, says Kurt Oddekalv.
We want the submarine wreck to be raised in two large parcels, and the seabed to be cleaned of all the mercury in the sediments, and for bottles down in the mud to be dug up and raised. Based on mercury measurements, it appears that most of the 67 tonnes of mercury are still in the steel bottles, and the largest accumulation is in the cargo keel.
The Norwegian Coastal Administration has not managed to clean up the pollution since they took over responsibility for U-864.
The Norwegian Coastal Administration has managed to collect approx. one liter of mercury from U-864, in 17 years and NOK 160 million in costs for investigations and unnecessary backfilling, it is a miserable result.
The Coastal Agency has not dug to look for the 300-400 bottles that fell out of the middle part of the 1857 bottles in total that were in the boat.
The Norwegian Coastal Administration has not dug down to the keel where the rest of the bottles are stored. The seabed near the keel is no more polluted than the seabed elsewhere around the boat. Hotspots/contaminated seabed originate from bottles that were destroyed in the torpedo ring and landed on the seabed, and which have rusted and leaked mercury since 1945. The argument to the Coastal Administration about the danger of spreading mercury during digging/suction dredging around the hull parts is unfounded.
Covering up is illegal
Covering is illegal, and violates, among other things, the Water Directive on requirements for improving the water environment, the mercury regulation EU 852/2017 on the disposal of mercury-containing waste. in addition to the OSPAR Convention where there are requirements for the member states to clean up pollution, and not least the Minamata Convention on mercury. It is downright illegal and dangerous to deposit 67 tonnes of mercury in salt water. Therefore, U-864 and loose bottles must be raised. Simply removing the mercury from the cargo cooler is complicated, time-consuming and risky in terms of leaching, and thus not relevant as an environmental measure for U-
864. Ammunition, hydraulic oil, compressed air bottles and probably Uranium oxide are in the cargo. There may also be more mercury stored inside the submarine. Any dangerous content will come up at a lift, and that's best for the environment in the long run.
The mercury must rise! Hulls and bottles must be raised, and the seabed must be cleaned.
The picture shows U-534, which was recorded off Denmark in 1993 at a depth of 63 metres, practically as new. See how the hull looks after growths/growth have been removed. U-864 is in better condition, because it lies on a less oxygen-rich surface depth. Therefore: raising is the solution.