Munitions are present in US Coastal Waters as a result of live fire training and testing, sea disposal, accidents, and acts of war. Sea disposal of military munitions, including chemical warfare material (CWM) was once an internationally accepted practice.
Department of Defense (DOD) Policy for sea disposal were not specific in early 1900s, but became more restrictive overtime. By 1945, munitions were required to be disposed 10 miles from shore. Conventional munitions had to be disposed of a minimum depth of 3,000 feet and CWM at a depth of 6,000 feet. Public Law (PL) 109-364, Section 314 addresses sea disposed munitions in US coastal waters, direct DOD, among other actions, to research the effects of sea disposed munitions on the ocean environment and those who use it. This PL requires research of six sea disposal sites, two of which must be in Hawaiian waters.
Program oversight for DOD's Sea-Disposed CWM has been delegated to the ASA (IE&E).
Current research does not indicate a significant impact from sea-disposed munitions on human health or the environment, but additional research is required. DOD does not currently plan to recover munitions from sea disposal sites given the absence of data indicating sea disposed munitions pose a threat to human health or the environment.