For Immediate Release
Navy Set to Pollute Ocean With McCain's ship
Sinking of John McCain's Old Aircraft Carrier Denounced
SEATTLE - The toxic waste watchdog
organization Basel Action Network (BAN) today slammed the government's plans to
scuttle the former aircraft carrier FORRESTAL in deep water as an
"artificial reef" instead of having the ship safely recycled at one of the
half-dozen active ship dismantling yards in the U.S. The FORRESTAL is a non-nuclear supercarrier now
moored in an aging pier on the
Naval Station at Newport, R.I.
Due to deterioration of the facility, the ship will be relocated by the
end of September 2010 and will be the first in her class of carriers to be
disposed. The ship contains large quantities of
recoverable metals such as steel, aluminum and brass, but also hazardous wastes
including asbestos, toxic paints and materials containing polychlorinated
The BAN protest came in its response to the Navy's "request for
information" (RFI) regarding two options for the FORRESTAL and the other carriers of its class: sinking or
recycling. Despite the Navy's apparent openness to the
recycling option, the Navy has already spent $6.4 million preparing the
ship for scuttling and insiders say that her fate at the ocean bottom is
already decided. BAN notes that the deep
water dumping sought by the Navy for security reasons will not benefit sport divers
and there is no scientific evidence that artificial reefs enhance
fisheries. More importantly, BAN insists that such ocean dumping ravages
the marine ecosystem, hammers U.S.
taxpayers with unnecessary expense, costs U.S. jobs, and violates international
law against ocean dumping.
"Once the toxic waste
is carefully removed and treated, these old naval vessels are a treasure trove
of recyclable metals. Dumping these old warships in the sea and damaging the marine
environment, while squandering green recycling jobs and precious resources,
would be the most dishonorable discharge imaginable," said Colby Self, BAN's Green Ship Recycling Coordinator.
While the Navy will
remove some of the PCBs on board, it is not expected that they will remove all
of them nor the toxic paints. In 2006,
when the Navy sunk another aircraft carrier, the ORISKANY, off the coast of Florida, they spent $23.6
million in total for the entire job and still left 700 pounds of pure PCBs
on the ship as well as toxic heavy metal based paints. Domestic recycling, on the other hand, will properly
recycle the toxic materials and defray the costs for doing so by recovering the
valuable scrap metal. It also will lower
the overall carbon footprint and environmental impact demonstrably, as
recycling is far less energy intensive and damaging to the environment than
primary metals production. According to
BAN's estimates, domestic recycling will cost the government no more than 6
million dollars for a ship like the FORRESTAL.
deliberate dumping of organohalogen compounds such as PCBs is illegal under
international law, and also flies in the face of 1998 Executive Order 13101
on "Greening the Government through Waste Prevention, Recycling and Federal
Acquisition" which states that national policy must "prefer pollution
prevention, whenever feasible. Pollution that cannot be prevented should be
recycled; pollution that cannot be prevented or recycled should be treated in
an environmentally safe manner. Disposal should be employed only as a last
According to the
Navy's own figures, the Forrestal alone contains a total of 39,957 long tons
of fully recoverable scrap metals. BAN
claims that in the U.S. there are numerous recyclers capable of doing this job
including Marine Metals LLC, All-Star Metals LLC, International Shipbreaking
LLC, ESCO Marine, Baybridge Enterprises, Southern Scrap Materials LLC and
others, all seeking to provide green recycling jobs.
"The days of treating our seas as trash dumps must come to an end," said
Colby Self. "Recycling is not only the
right thing to do, and the legal thing to do, but it entails far less costs on
taxpayers. Once all the facts are on the
table, the Navy's choice to recycle its aging fleet rather letting it pollute the
marine environment cannot be more clear," he said.
For a copy of BAN submission: www.ban.org/Library/
 Senator John McCain served on the
FORRESTAL in 1967 and was involved in the infamous fire on board the vessel
that year in which 132 crew members perished.
 PCBs - The toxicity of PCBs to
animals was first noticed in the 1970s when emaciated seabird corpses with very
high PCB body burdens were washed up on beaches. PCBs exhibit a wide range of toxic effects
and are of particular concern in the marine environment. These effects include: Toxicity of PCBs to
invertebrates and fish in the water column; accumulation in sediments and
potential hazard to sediment-dwelling organisms; bioaccumulation of PCBs in
fish, birds and Annex II sea mammals with known sublethal toxicological
effects; endocrine disruption in birds
and sea mammals posing a hazard to populations of these animals.
 The London Convention of 1972 of
which the U.S.
is a Party, lists "Organohalogen compounds" as prohibited from deliberate
disposal in the sea. The EPA has
designated this type of "artificial reefing" as disposal and thus according to
the London Convention, unless all PCBs are removed, such disposal is illegal. http://www.aU.S.tlii.edu.au/
ton - one long ton equals 2,240 pounds.