Federal experts are using X-ray equipment today to examine 504,000 pounds of clams in a New Bedford warehouse that were hauled up by a clammer this week that also pulled up a World War I-era mustard gas shell.
“We believe it’s highly unlikely that any ordnance or traces of sulfur are in the catch, but we have to treat it like a real threat,” said Lauren Jorgensen, a petty officer with the US Coast Guard, one of several agencies involved with the investigation.
The crew of the Atlantic City, N.J.-based ESS Pursuit discovered eight munitions shells while dredging for clams a few miles off the coast of Fire Island, N.Y., Jorgensen said. One shell broke open. Three crewmembers were injured. The catch was brought to the Sea Watch International processing facility, where it is being kept in a refrigeration unit separate from other seafood.
The catch is being scanned by US Customs and Border protection workers using Heiman Cargo Mobile Vision, a high-energy mobile X-ray scanning vehicle.
The ESS Pursuit is now anchored two miles off the New Bedford coast. The Coast Guard has cordoned off a safety zone around the vessel while a National Guard team examines the vessel.
The scan of the catch could take two or more days, Jorgensen said. Jorgensen said the entire catch will be disposed of after the scans are complete.
On the beat
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