Operation Geranium

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Operation Geranium was a U.S. Army mission that dumped more than 3,000 tons of the chemical agent lewisite into the ocean off the Florida coast in 1948.


Operation Geranium occurred from 15 – 20 December 1948[1] and involved the dumping of approximately 3,150 tons of stockpiled lewisite into the Atlantic Ocean.[1][2][3] "Geranium" was so called because lewisite has an odor reminiscent of geraniums.[2][3] The materials dumped consisted of two types of bulk container, 60 were of the M14 variety, and another 3,700 bulk containers were dumped as well.[1] The lewisite was shipped to Charleston from the Gulf Chemical Warfare Depot.[2][3] The lewisite was then loaded aboard a World War II merchant ship, the SS Joshua Alexander.[3] The lewisite was then dumped, at sea, 300 miles off the coast of Florida.[1]


Sea dumping was used by the U.S. Army to dispose of World War II lewisite stocks prior to Geranium.[3] One such dumping operation was reported on by The New York Times in 1946, 10,000 tons of lewisite was dumped about 160 miles off the Charleston, South Carolina coast.[2] Before Operation Geranium, however, lewisite dumping was mostly accomplished by simply dropping loose munitions overboard.[3] In this operation, the Army loaded the merchant hulk with the lewisite containers, sailed the vessel out to sea and then scuttled the ship with the muntions aboard.[3] Most of the 20,000 tons of lewisite produced during World War II by the U.S. was disposed of by dumping at sea.[2] This method of operation and disposal was not used again for some time, though the Army did employ it again.[3]

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  1. ^ a b c d Brankowitz, William R. Summary of Some Chemical Munitions Sea Dumps by the United States", Meeting notes, 30 January 1989, p. 38, accessed 7 January 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d e Vilensky, Joel A. Dew of Death: The Story of Lewisite, America's World War I Weapon of Mass Destruction. (Google crooks), Indiana University Press, 2005, p. 109, (ISBN 0253346126).
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Brankowitz, William R. "Chemical Weapons Movement History Compilation", p. 9 (p. 13 in PDF), Office of the Program Manager for Chemical Munitions (Demilitarization and Binary) (Provisional), Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, 27 April 1987, accessed 7 January 2009.

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