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Regional News

8.5 tons of WWII ordnance removed from Palau

(Press Release) — Cleared Ground Demining or CGD, with funding from the New Zealand government’s North Pacific Development Fund, has just completed a task removing over 8.5 tons of World War II ordnance from a Japanese ammunition barge that had sunk during the war next to Peleliu Channel, Peleliu State, in the Republic of Palau.

A large total of 167 of 200mm projectiles were discovered, many of them leaking toxic chemicals into the water not far from Peleliu’s Teluleu Marine Conservation Area.

Click to enlarge
Cleared Ground Demining teams collect  the 200mm projectiles from the barge wreck. Cleared Ground Demining team members work among the WWII ammunition barge wreck.
The 167 projectiles collected are ready for transportation to Cleared Ground Demining’s demolitions range. 8.5 tons of ordnance await transportation for destruction.  Contributed photos

The location of the sunken barge was also a human security concern to Peleliu State as the channel into Peleliu’s North Dock is a main point of access for the people of Peleliu, with Peleliu’s fuel and food supplies dependent on this access, as well for boats bringing dive and WWII tourists.

A spokesperson for the not-for profit British NGO Cleared Ground, said that CGD worked closely with Peleliu State to prioritize the removal of this leaking ordnance without delay utilizing CGD’s highly trained local Palauan teams, as it was only a matter of time before more of these 73-year-old rusting projectiles began to leak, causing a greater environmental threat to Palau’s pristine oceans and a more involved and costly removal task.

CGD conducts extensive WWII research to assist in the location of ordnance in Palau, and the spokesperson also added that WWII historians were excited by CGD locating the barge, as it helps explain why Peleliu’s large 200mm gun on Bloody Nose Ridge, which is a favorite site for tourists to Peleliu, is said never to have been fired.

CGD said there are many WWII reports by U.S. pilots of Japanese ammunition barges being struck as Japanese forces began to run low on ammunition on Peleliu, and many attempts were made to send ammunition re-supplies from Babeldaob Island bases to Peleliu Island, often under the cover of night.