Old Naval Ship Toxic: EPA Sues

Baltimore, MD – The owner of an old naval ship has been sued by the EPA to keep the ship within the United States in order to clean up the decaying ship that is parked within Baltimore’s harbor to be cleaned up there. This comes after a report showing that the ship contains a level of toxic chemicals that is dangerously high.

Toxic Navy Vessel To Be Moved to Greece

The decorated World War II ship has been literally rotting for 18 years in the Patapsco River. It had not been maintained until an October 2007 auction sold it to Potomac Navigation Inc. The company had made plans to tow the ship to Greece in December, but the U.S. government is trying to prevent them from towing the toxic vessel.

Potomac had originally paid $500,000 for the ship and they are now out of around $1.5 million because of the issues they are facing with the government.

Law Prohibits the Export of Toxic Matierals

The concern was originally raised by a group based out of Seattle called the Basel Action Network, which is an environmental group. Their question was whether or not the ship should be towed to a country that is developing because it would be possible that the ship be dismantled and the scraps sold for extra cash. This could create an issue with toxic materials being dispersed. The towing would also violate regulations that prohibit the export of materials that are toxic.

Potomac has stated repeatedly that they have no plans to scrap the ship, but they want to turn it into a storage facility or a floating after it has been remediated by a Greek specialist. Potomac’s attorney, Lawrence Kahn, has said that the company plans on removing the toxins legally and in a safe manner, but the Basel Action Network or BAN is not convinced.

BAN feels that despite the claims of the owner, they have never believed that the ship would be going anywhere other than breaking the banks of such countries as Pakistan, India, Turkey, or Bangladesh, which would result in toxic materials contaminating the environment and those who work there. They feel that toxic ships should never again be exported or be used as target practice that destines them for the bottom of the sea.

Navy Vessel Searched for Toxic PCBs

Last fall, the EPA acquired their injunction against Potomac that would prevent the ship from leaving United States waters. The vessel was searched for PCBs, which are currently toxic and were used in fireproofing many years ago. However, they have since been linked to problems in neurodevelopment, led to cancer, and reproduction. The EPA has stated that they found non-liquid PCB levels on the ship that were higher than what is allowed by regulations. There was also 1800 pounds of coolant found that has a high concentration of PCBs.

Ship’s Fate Still Undecided Due to Toxic Materials

This lawsuit is just the latest in the saga that has lasted for decades when finding a new home for the ship. After winning 11 battle stars in Vietnam, the ship was then sold to a humanitarian group in 1989 by the U.S. Maritime Administration for $10. The ship was supposed to become a floating rehabilitation center, but never reached that goal. The group then passed the vessel on to another group that abandoned it.

The EPA is moving to have the ship dismantled, but Potomac believes that is unnecessary because the PCBs can be removed safely since the vessel possibly has another 50 years left to its life.

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