Consultation launched on ghost ship permit

The public are being asked to comment on a proposed Environmental Permit for a company that has been fighting to dismantle potentially toxic waste ships at a site in the northeast since 2003.

Able UK won a contract from the US Maritime Administration to dismantle the so-called ghost ships five years ago.

But the company faced a long battle before winning planning permission from the local council in November 2007 to fulfil the contract at a site in Graythorp, near Hartlepool.

The Environment Agency has now begun a public consultation on the Environmental Permit for the site, which is among a number of permits and consents that have to be granted before the ships can be dismantled.

Since the four vessels arrived in the dock in 2003, they have been the subject of bitter wrangling between Able UK and environmental protestors.

Now the public is being given another chance to voice any concerns about the site.

Bob Pailor, from the Environment Agency, said: "As a public body we try to take account of a wide range of people's views when we make decision on applications for permits.

"We would welcome comments on the proposed Environmental Permit and its conditions. These comments will be considered as part of our decision making process."

Anyone who wants to comment or examine copies of the application and draft permit should email

The US vessels covered under the contract, which are all of post-war design, contain hazardous materials such as asbestos which could pose a threat to human health.

Last November, Able UK was fined £22,000 at Hartlepool Magistrates' Court after pleading guilty to two offences of failing to deal with asbestos in line with landfill regulations at its Seaton Meadows site.

Able UK was unavailable for comment.

Kate Martin



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