Toxic World War II Submarine to Be Buried in Sand

A German submarine that was sunk off Norway at the end of World War II will be buried in special sand to protect the coastline from its cargo of toxic mercury, the government announced Tuesday.

The U-864 submarine, which was found by the Royal Norwegian Navy in March 2003, is believed to have about 70 tons of mercury on board.

Despite demands from local villagers to remove the mercury, Minister of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs Dag Terje Andersen said the government was following expert recommendations to instead bury the sub in sand and stone.

"A raising operation involves great risk of spreading mercury pollution to new areas, areas which are currently clean," he said.

Andersen said the submarine and polluted sections nearby would be covered with a special absorbent sand and then covered with heavier fill to prevent erosion.

The U-864 had been headed for Japan when it was sunk on Feb. 9, 1945, about 2½ miles off the island of Fedje. The sub now lies under about 500 feet of water.