2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 4 Sep 2003 17:38:46 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Ghost Fleet ships' transfer to England hits stormy seas
Ghost Fleet ships' transfer to England hits stormy seas
September 4, 2003

Plans to tow to England and dismantle 13 decrepit vessels now in the
James River ``Ghost Fleet'' are running into problems -- from bad
weather to environmental opposition -- that threaten to delay or block
the overseas shipments.

Activist groups including the Basel Action Network, Earth Justice and
Friends of the Earth have vowed to sue the U.S. government to stop the
towing of aging ships until their toxic innards are first removed. This
way, the groups argue, the rusting vessels could cross the Atlantic
Ocean without risk of leaking chemicals or oil as they travel 4,500
miles to a scrap yard in northeast England.

 ``We fully intend to block it,'' said Richard Gutierrez, toxics policy
analyst for the Seattle-based Basel Action Network, better known by its
acronymn, BAN.

``This basically is a transport of pollution from the United States to
Great Britain,'' Gutierrez added. He said his group is concerned about
tons of hazardous materials still on the ships, including asbestos, lead
paint, mercury and carcinogenic PCBs,a petroleum-based insulant in ship
wiring and equipment.

The U.S. Maritime Administration, caretaker of the James River Reserve
Fleet, better known as the Ghost Fleet, announced a $17.8 million deal
in July that would transport 13 of the most fragile vessels, along with
two Navy oilers, to a shipyard in Teesside, England, off the North Sea.

It has been described as the largest disposal contract in the history of
the reserve fleet, anchored off Fort Eustis in Newport News, since World
War I. About 100 large cargo and military-support ships are parked in
the fleet today; nearly 70 are considered obsolete and ready for the
scrap heap.

A study two years ago determined that if just two of the ships broke
apart, an oil spill stretching 50 miles could result, threatening
historic sites such as Jamestown Island and various nature sanctuaries.

The contract calls for the ships to reach or be on their way to the
English yard by Nov. 30. The Maritime Administration said this week that
it believes the deadline will be met, though it does not know when the
ships will leave Virginia.

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