integrated science approach to Risk and Management

01 January 2020 → Ongoing
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Engineering and technology
    • Bioremediation
    • Environmental biotechnology diagnostics
    • Environmental marine biotechnology
    • Environmental microorganism biotechnology
    • Maritime engineering
    • Other biotechnology, bio-engineering and biosystem engineering not elsewhere classified
Chemical munition at see Corrosion Environmental contamination Risk assessment Biological remediation
Project description

The Paardenmarkt is one of the many munition dumpsites in our oceans. A few m below the seafloor, ca. 35.000 tons of WW1 chemical munition are buried. The present scientific knowledge is insufficient to make any reliable judgement on the state of the site. The DISARM project aims to address the knowledge gaps, but will go an important step further to develop an integrated scientific approach to support risk assessment and management of marine chemical munition dumpsites worldwide, using the Paardenmarkt munition dumpsite as a challenging case study.

A thorough characterisation of the present state of the dumpsite is the project start. Novel technologies will be used to determine the burial depth, take sediment samples close to the munition, and assess the freshwater flux at the site. Chemical warfare agents (CWA), explosives and their degradation products will be analysed with new methodologies, advancing detection limits. The physical state of the shells will be evaluated through an innovative combination of experimental analyses and integrated modelling of different corrosion processes. Novel in-situ passive sampling devices will analyse a time-integrated spatial distribution of the water-exchangeable fraction of munition-related chemical compounds. This will be related to bioaccumulation and ecotoxicity of these compounds in laboratory bio-assays including passive dosing.

Dynamic modelling of chemical fate and effects on humans and the environment (including mixture toxicity) will result in a chemical risk assessment. Dedicated experiments and models will evaluate the explosion risk of the aged compounds. Collaborating microbial communities will be constructed to break down key hazardous chemicals through smart inoculation. New technologies for monitoring and management will be evaluated together with key players in the field. Finally we will develop a scientific workflow for dumpsite research and provide a policy informing document