Dumping of chemical warfare in the Baltic Sea after World War II

 During World War II around 65000 tons of chemical warfare agents were produced and developed in Germany. Mustard gas was the most widely produced, accounting for around 39 % of total production. Table A.1 shows the quantities of chemical warfare agents produced in Germany (Helcom 1996).


Table A.1 - Chemical warfare agents produced in Germany between 1935 and 1945 (Helcom 1993c).

Warfare agent Quantity [t]
Clark I
Clark II
Adamsite 3900
Arsenic oil* 7500
Phosgene 5900
Mustard gas 25000
Nitrogen mustard 2000
Tabun 12000
Lewisite Production small but unknown








(* Mixture of arsenic containing compounds)

After World War II
some 300 000 tons of chemical weapons (CW) were captured on German territory. By far the largest part of these weapons was dumped in the Baltic Sea and Skagerrak Strait on the orders of the British, Russian and American occupation authorities (Helcom 1994). At least 170000 tons of CW was dumped in the Skagerrak, mainly in the Norwegian trench and in the eastern Skagerrak, off the Swedish coast. In most of the dumping operations in the Skagerrak complete ships were sunk with their cargo (Helcom 1994, 1996).

In the Baltic Sea at least 50 000 tons of CW were dumped; the most important dumpsites here are located in the Lille Belt, near the island of Bornholm, and in the Gotland basin (Helcom 1994). In most cases the warfare was thrown over board, either loose (bombs, shells) or in containers, but some ships were also sunk (Helcom 1996). There are strong indications that part of the warfare was thrown overboard during transport to the Baltic dumpsites; how many tons were thus dumped is not known (Andrulewicz 1996, Schultz-Ohlberg 2001).

Missiaen, T., Paka, V., Emalyanov, E. (2006)
Photos: Shirshov Institute of Oceanology (2006)


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At least some
50,000 tonnes
of chemical
weapons were
dumped in the
Baltic Sea.