2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 3 Oct 2003 15:08:38 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Judge Partially Grants Temporary Restraining Order


For immediate release: October 2, 2003


Jim Puckett, Basel Action Network 1-206-652-5555, cell 1-206-779-0363
Michael Town, Sierra Club, Virginia Chapter 1-804-225-9113 Martin
Wagner/Marcello Mollo, Earthjustice 1-510-550-6700

Bush Administration to Export 4 Toxic Ships: British Warn they Might
be Returned

Judge Partially Grants Temporary Restraining Order, Activists Vow to
Press on with Lawsuit

WASHINGTON, DC - Judge Rosemary Collyer of the Washington, D.C.
Federal District court partially granted a request for a temporary
restraining order (TRO) brought by the Basel Action Network (BAN) and
the Sierra Club represented by Earthjustice.  But the ruling will
allow the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) to begin to immediately
tow four of thirteen dilapidated and obsolete naval vessels contracted
to be sent from the James River in Virginia to a scrap yard in
Teesside, on the northeast coast of England.  The first two ships
contain over 68 tons of highly persistent and toxic PCBs as well as
over 120 tons of cancer causing asbestos will likely sail as early as
Friday. The decision puts a hold on the remaining 9 ships until after
a second court hearing on October 20.

“Clearly the judge is concerned, but the Bush Administration is still
being allowed to begin a needlessly risky venture that puts the health
of the global environment and two coastal communities in serious
jeopardy.” said Jim Puckett of BAN.  “We have strong faith that
despite this foolhardy launch of the first of these dilapidated toxic
time bombs toward foreign shores, sanity will soon prevail and this
misguided scheme will itself be scrapped.”

The decision was a surprise because, as reported by Reuters over the
weekend, the UK Environment Agency has informed MARAD that allowing
any of the U.S. "ghost fleet" to sail to Britain "before all required
regulatory approvals are in place...may lead to the ships being
repatriated to the United States."  Indeed there is not even a
dry-dock facility in place which is a requirement of the contract.
According to Friends of the Earth UK, all of the planning permissions
to build a seawall or bund to create a drydock basin have not been
given and may never be given.  If the permissions are not in place
when the ships arrive in England, the ships might be sent back across
the North Atlantic, a needless doubling of a highly risky venture,
according to the environmental organizations BAN and Sierra Club.

The environmental groups filed the lawsuit and requested a temporary
restraining order on the export of the vessels on September 26th,
alleging among other things that the planned export is in violation of
the PCB export prohibition found in the U.S. Toxics Substances Control
Act (TSCA). According to the law, an exemption from the export
prohibition may be granted only through a proper rulemaking procedure
involving public input, which in this case did not take place.
According to the environmental groups the failure of the TRO is not a
reflection of the success of the larger lawsuit and allegation.

“This round-one decision is by no means a definitive decision on the
legality of the export,” said Earthjustice attorney Martin Wagner.
“Indeed we believe that the court must find that any exemption to the
PCB export ban must only come through a proper public process.”

Judge Collyer’s decision comes at a moment when a new hurricane Kate
has formed and is bearing westward toward the coast of the US.

“It is hard to understand the Bush Administration’s rationale for
placing the global environment and sensitive ecosystems like the
Chesapeake Bay at needless risk, when we have companies right here in
Virginia that can dismantle and recycle these ships safely," said
Sierra Club’s Michael Town.  “This is doubly puzzling when we now
learn that an adequate dry-dock facility to recycle the vessels is not
in place in England as is required.”

Read the decision online here:


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