2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 13 Mar 2003 15:29:55 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Where to Dispose of Va.'s 'Ghost Fleet'
Where to Dispose of Va.'s 'Ghost Fleet'?
U.S. Seeks International Sites for Junking Old Ships Despite Concerns
Over Pollution
By Peter S. Goodman and Eric M. Weiss
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, March 12, 2003; Page B03

U.S. officials have begun searching the globe for shipyards that would
take and break down for disposal the "ghost fleet" -- the toxin-laden,
discarded naval vessels now deteriorating on Virginia's James River.

The Bush administration has decided to pursue a resumption of the
controversial practice of sending the vessels abroad for dismantling,
over the opposition of environmental advocacy groups that support a
continuation of a 1998 moratorium on such exports.

A team from the U.S. Maritime Administration and the Environmental
Protection Agency was scheduled to depart for Beijing last night to
inspect potential sites. Officials also have opened discussions with
authorities in Mexico, Scotland and Wales.

Congress has given the Maritime Administration until 2006 to dispose of
the surplus ships. There are 71 such vessels in the James, holding
nearly 13 million gallons of fuel and oil as well as substantial
quantities of cancer-causing PCBs and asbestos. An additional 51 surplus
ships float in Suisan Bay, Calif., and nine in Beaumont, Tex., according
to the Maritime Administration. Half are more than 50 years old, and
many are rusting and prone to leaking. With the risk of pollution
mounting, officials in Virginia have been pressing the federal
government to remove the ships.

The United States used to routinely export old ships to countries
willing to dismantle them cheaply for scrap. Nearly 200 vessels were
disposed of in this fashion from 1983 through 1994, according to the
General Accounting Office. But disclosures about the unsafe and largely
unregulated conditions under which workers in countries such as India
and Bangladesh performed the task -- toiling without protective gear for
scant pay while suffering alarming rates of injury -- prompted the
Clinton administration to impose a moratorium on exports five years ago.

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