13 May 2005

US offers submarine to check hazardous Solomons WWII shipwrecks

3:21 pm on 13 May 2005

Scientists in Hawaii are offering to help the Solomon Islands government by examining Second World War shipwrecks for any leaks of hazardous substances.

The Solomons government has asked officials in Washington to send expert help.

The director of Hawaii's undersea research laboratory, Dr John Wiltshire, says his staff are willing to step in.

Dr Wiltshire says his scientists have plenty of experience in finding Japanese wrecks off Hawaii.

"Certainly in the Solomon Islands there are a very, very large number of such wrecks, and the leakage of oil from these wrecks is a real issue, because a lot of these carried significant cargoes of oil, and as the wreck deteriorates, some of that oil starts to leak out."

Dr Wiltshire suggests the UN, large environmental organisations and other governments would be able to pay for any mission.