Fears of toxic waste from Teeside ship-scrapping plan

Environmental groups have criticised a deal to recycle 13 US Navy ships at a disposal plant in Teeside.

The Teeside Green Party, and environmental group Impact-Teeside, both say that bringing the ships to the UK from their current site in the James River, Virginia, will be a breach of international law and will lead to hazardous waste being dumped in this country.

Able UK has won the contract to dispose of the ships in their Teeside Environmental Reclamation and Recycling Centre (TERRC), near Hartlepool. This facility was developed seven years ago specifically to handle large numbers of vessels and structures at the same time.

Able UK Managing Director, Peter Stephenson, said: “This project is good news for Able UK, and the region, in underlining our position as a major centre for handling complex marine decommissioning projects.” He also claimed it would create 200 jobs.

However, a spokesman for the Teeside Green Party, Peter Goodwin, told edie that the deal involves the lifting of environmental laws, in both the UK and the US, which ban the import and export of hazardous waste.

Impact Teeside, say these ships should be classified as hazardous waste as they contain asbestos and PCBs in quantities too high for landfill sites, raising questions about their eventual disposal.

Able UK also claim the support of Greenpeace. However, Mark Strutt, a Toxics Campaigner for Greenpeace told edie: “Greenpeace has certainly not been consulted on this matter. We believe that the US is more than capable of dealing with these ships on their own land, and that is far more preferable to towing them 4,000 miles across stormy seas.”

He said that Greenpeace has no complaint about the TERRC facility, saying that there is a strong need for good shipyards to dispose of ships, rather than taking them to the developing world (see related story), but added, “Toxic waste should be dealt with at source. There is no reason for the UK to break its own rules and import hazardous waste.”

Able UK were contacted several times by edie, but nobody was available for comment.



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