Clammer is Injured Dredging up Old Bomb, Chowder Gets Tossed
A fishing crew apparently pulled up unexploded ordnance while clamming, leading to a fisherman being hospitalized with second-degree burns and the destruction of more than 700 cases of chowder, officials said.
It's unclear what the ordnance was, but fishing vessels along the Atlantic Coast routinely dredge up munitions, including mustard agent, that were dumped at sea decades ago when environmental laws were far more lax.
The injured fisherman was treated at a hospital in Philadelphia for burns and blisters, said U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Seth Johnson.
Such injuries are consistent with mustard agent exposure.
The crew of the fishing vessel the William Lee found what they believed was an old or discarded ordnance canister on Aug. 2 and threw it back into the ocean 30 miles east of Barnegat Inlet, Johnson said.
Larry Hajna, a spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, said the agency wasn't told about it until Tuesday - a week later. The agency immediately reported it to the Coast Guard, he said. The boat was impounded in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and inspected Wednesday, but no hazardous materials were found, Johnson said. He said the Coast Guard is investigating why it wasn't immediately reported.
My guess is that it happens more often than you imagine, nothing much happens most of the time, and the fishermen resent the time lost to official dithering and paperwork. It's not like the military or OSHA is going to pay them for lost time.
In the meantime, clams from the vessel had already been delivered to Sea Watch International, a seafood processor in Milford, Delaware. More than 500 cases of clam chowder were impounded at the plant, and a truck was sent to a New Hampshire warehouse to retrieve 192 more cases, according to Michael Globetti, a spokesman for the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.
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