Sunken WWII ships may pollute US waters

May 20, 2013, 3:01 PM EDT
n aerial view of New Yorkers taking in the sun on a beach at Coney Island on August 4, 2012 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.
Getty Images/Mario Tama

WASHINGTON (AP) — A new government report details 87 shipwrecks that could pollute U.S. waters with oil. Most were sunk during World War II.

The potential for pollution is less than scientists had expected. They estimate that far less oil will leak into the ocean than the BP oil spill of 2010, which spewed roughly 200 million gallons into the Gulf of Mexico alone.

However, six leaks are considered potentially significant coastal pollution problems. Study author Lisa Symons said Monday those six keep her up at night. Five are off the Florida coast, one just 15 miles from shore.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration which did the report doesn't know exactly where half the shipwrecks are.

The government agency is studying whether oil can be removed from some vessels before they leak.