This is crazy—see those yellow dots on the map? Those are the locations of some 20,000 known shipwrecks off the coast of America, all mapped by the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration as part of their Remediation of Underwater Legacy Environmental Threats (RULET) project. Many of those yellow dots are older sailing ships or coal-fired vessels, and it's no big deal if those sit on the bottom of the ocean; others, however, are World-War-II-era oil tankers torpedoed by the freaking Nazis.
Those tankers, and some other non-wartime wrecks carrying large volumes of oil, are a problem. It's only a matter of time before corrosion starts to release thousands of tons of oil from those ships into the ocean. Some 87 wrecks have been added to a national risk assessment report, with 36 of them deemed "high priority for a Worst Case Discharge." And these are just the boats that NOAA knows about; they estimate "it is likely that local knowledge will bring forward other vessels that [also] meet the criteria...."
If these ships start to leak, it is not just the poor Gulf states that dealt with the Deepwater Horizon disaster that will be affected:The majority of the 36 higher risk wrecks identified in RULET are located off the North Carolina and Florida coasts. They reflect the intensity of World War II casualties in the Battle of the Atlantic. For the 6 Most Probable Discharge (10%) scenario, the high priority wrecks are located off of New England and Florida.
As this report was just released two days ago, any potential solutions have yet to surface.