Hoyo Maru oil

Japan asked to avert disaster from Pacific World War II wrecks


By Ed Johnson

The Pacific island nation of Micronesia wants Japanese help to avert an environmental disaster as Imperial Navy ships destroyed during World War II break up and leak oil in a tropical lagoon. 

Scientists last month recorded a 5-kilometer-long slick oozing from the wreck of the Hoyo Maru oil tanker in the Chuuk Lagoon, where more than 50 Japanese vessels litter the seabed. 

Researchers say the site is a "ticking time bomb" and highlights the environmental danger posed to other island nations across the Pacific, where more than 900 World War II wrecks, predominantly from Japan and the U.S., are rusting away and threatening to spill oil.