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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Almanac: U.S.S. Arizona

Air Date: Week of

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This week, facts about the U.S.S. Arizona. The sunken ship has rested in Pearl Harbor Harbor for the past 60 years, and now, it's leaking oil.


CURWOOD: It's Living on Earth. I'm Steve Curwood.


REPORTER: 5:00 PM, New York City, here's a bulletin. Honolulu: Japanese bombs killed at least five persons and injured many others, three seriously, in a surprise morning aerial attack today on Honolulu. The sky was filled with tufts of smoke from exploding shells fired by American Army and Navy anti-aircraft units...

Photo: Steve CurwoodPhoto: Steve Curwood

CURWOOD: During the attack on Pearl Harbor the battleship U.S.S. Arizona was sunk when a bomb ignited thousands of tons of ammunition on board. Today, the ship rests in shallow water exactly where it went down 60 years ago. The site is a national war memorial, an aquatic grave for 900 sailors and marines still entombed within. Visitors to the memorial often notice a trail of iridescent splotches shimmering on the surface of the water above the ship. That's because the Arizona is slowly leaking oil, about a quart a day, or one drop every ten seconds. But now, some scientists are worried that beneath the surface the ship is fast becoming an ecological time bomb. It's hull, after six decades under water, is becoming thin from corrosion, and, inside the hull are at least a half a million gallons of oil. So far, scientists have found shiny black globules of oil leaking from two holes in the rear of the ship and one in the mid-section. But stopping the flow of oil would mean tampering with the national shrine. Some folks go so far as to say that the Arizona is bleeding, or that she's crying tears of oil for her crew. Others suggest the battleship will stop leaking when the last survivor joins his shipmates. And that's this week's Living on Earth Almanac.



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