Clam fisherman exposed after munitions shell leaks toxic chemical over boat

A fisherman is recovering after being exposed to munitions shells containing mustard gas that came up with a haul of clams off the coast of Massachusetts last weekend.

It is believed one of the shells cracked or leaked in the process of being hauled up, exposing the man to the toxic chemical.

The 145ft boat, ESS Pursuit, was fishing in a declared munitions dumping ground off the coast of Massachusetts, but no fishing restrictions were in place.

The US military used this area of seabed as a dumping ground from the end of the Second World War until 1970, according to the Associated Press.

Doctors expect the man, named as Konstantin Burndshov, to make a full recovery, but he’ll likely be left with permanent scarring from the blistering caused by the gas.

It is unknown how many and what type of weapons have been dumped at sea by the US military, but records show there had been at least 74 instances of ocean disposal – 32 off the US coast and 42 overseas.

Late last year, a beach on the Gower Peninsular in Wales had to be closed for decontamination after a mustard gas shell was found.

Photo: Coast Guard personnel prepare to decontaminate the fishing vessel off New Bedford, Massachusetts. AP Photo/Petty Officer 2nd Class Lauren Jorgensen, U.S. Coast Guard