U-864 – The mercury submarine at Fedje
The Norwegian Environmental Protection Association (NMF) has been the driving force behind raising the mercury submarine since it was found in 2003. The submarine lies at a depth of 150 meters in two large parts off Fedje, with a total of 67 tonnes of mercury in the cargo keel. The Norwegian Environmental Protection Association requires full environmental remediation of U-864, this entails raising the two large hull parts, full clean-up of loose mercury containers in the wreck area, and removal of heavily contaminated seabed/hotspots.
Covering up must be put away forever
After they were told to remove the lifting option, the Norwegian Coastal Agency has worked to obtain as much documentation as possible that covering is the best environmental measure for wrecks and the seabed. NOK 10 million has been spent on creating a large pile of documents, and NOK 160 million on an unnecessary backfill of stone. The Coastal Agency has planned something illegal, instructed by the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Coastal and Fisheries in 2010.
Weaknesses in the documentation from the Coastal Administration
It turns out that there are major weaknesses in the documentation for cover-up, and emergency manager Johan Marius Ly admitted at the public meeting at Fedje in June 2018 that "There is no guarantee that mercury will not leak out from the wreck".
Almost no rust on cargo keel and pressure hull
The solid steel materials on U-864 are almost unrusted, especially the pressure hull and the cargo keel which are buried in the mud, and this means that very little rusting has taken place since 1945. The hull is strong enough for a heave, and it is intact contrary to what the Norwegian Coastal Administration has said. DNV-GL's rust analyzes of a similar submarine that was taken up off Denmark in 1993 show that there was almost no rust on the keel. This submarine was located at approx. 65 meters deep, while U-864 is 150 meters deep.
Hans-Petter Laahne Mortensholm, former project manager U-864, now emergency manager at the Coastal Administration, has said that there is little turnover (oxygen/rusting) at this depth, and thus he argues that a rise is possible.
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 857/2017 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.
Transport Minister Knut Arild Hareide opens for lifting
NMF requires that the expert committee 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.
Paid tender now
The Norwegian Environmental Protection Association proposes that the Ministry of Transport and Communications announce a paid tender round where 5 actors are selected after submitting a concept for NOK 500,000 each. tender which is the best. This will ensure quality in the tenders, and make it easier for the authorities to make a decision on an increase in practice. 3 million has been allocated, which can be used for the initial round, and another 30 million is expected. NMF is looking forward to the hulls from U-864 reaching the sea surface 2 nautical miles west of Fedje. And then MS Miljødronningen will be there to receive guests from the government and the press.