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Showing posts from March, 2008

USEPA alleges Global Marketing Systems Inc Illegal export of toxic ship for shipbreaking

Ship headed for Alang yard

HAGERSTOWN, Md. -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says the Maryland-based owner of an old ocean liner with components containing toxic PCBs illegally sent the ship overseas for recycling.

Cumberland-based Global Shipping LLC and an affiliated trading company, Global Marketing Systems Inc., denied the allegations. The companies, cited by the EPA as one entity, could face hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines for failing to properly dispose of the chemicals in violation of the Toxic Substances Control Act.

"I don't think as far as we're concerned that any laws have been broken," said Anil Sharma, president of Global Marketing Systems and a shareholder in Global Shipping, which owns the vessel. Global Marketing's primary business is ship recycling, Sharma said.

The case highlights the practice of sending aged ships to "ship breaking" yards in South Asia, where critics say unprotected workers are endangered by exposure …
PCBs are very toxic chemical compounds. They are considered probable human
carcinogen or cancer causing substance by institutions such as the
International Agency for Research on Cancer, and the United States
Environmental Protection Agency.

Due to the danger they pose to people and the environment PCBs were placed
in the initial list of "dirty dozen" toxic chemicals that the
international community had agreed to restrict and ultimately eliminate
under the 2001 Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants
(POPs). The treaty, which the Philippine Senate ratified in 2004, imposed
a ban on the production of PCBs and gave countries until 2025 to eliminate
the use of PCBs in certain equipment.

PCBs are thin, light-colored liquids to yellow or black waxy solids used
as heat exchange fluids in electric transformers or capacitors, and as
plasticizers in paints, plastics, and rubber products and as additives in
dyes, pigments, sealants and carbonless copy paper.

These extremely toxic chemi…

Another 'Blue Lady' heading for India?

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NEW YORK: Is another "toxic time bomb" headed for a ship-breaking yard in India? The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has served notice on its owner for not obtaining the mandatory clearances. Rights groups say this is not enough.

Pulled by a tug, the SS Oceanic (formerly SS Independence), an aged 682-foot ocean liner, sailed from San Francisco Feb 8, passed Hawaii and Guam and is now believed to be near Saipan, capital of the North Mariana Islands in the Western Pacific.

According to the Basel Action Network (BAN) and Save the Classic Liners Campaign that tipped off the EPA, the ship's owner, Global Marketing Services (GMS), "routinely buys ships from all over the world and sends them to the notorious breaking beaches of Bangladesh, Pakistan and India".

BAN estimates the ship is loaded with 210 tonnes of toxic polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contaminated material and 250 tonnes of asbestos.

More than 1.5 billion pounds of PCBs were manufactured in the US be…

USEPA complaint targets city-based business

CUMBERLAND ­ An attorney for Global Shipping and Global Marketing Systems said Friday the company intends to “cooperate fully” in regard to a federal complaint filed this week by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA).

Robert Basseches said he has advised GMS owner Anil Sharma and all employees of the Cumberland-based companies from commenting on the complaint, which alleges a violation of the Toxic Substances Control Act.

Specifically, the EPA said that a ship owned by GMS, the MV Oceanic, has PCB-containing materials on board. PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, were used in coolants, insulating fluids and as stabilizing additives in flexible PVC coatings of electrical wiring and electrical components. The U.S. banned the use of PCBs in 1978.

“Federal law prohibits companies from exporting PCBs, including those in ships, that are sent overseas to be scrapped,” Rich Vaille, associate director for waste program enforcement in the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region, said in a news r…

Aged ships a toxic export

A looming spike in retired vessels could send tons of PCBs and asbestos to South Asia's 'ship breakers' before new international regulations take hold.

By Mark Clayton

Somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, an empty passenger liner is being towed on her last voyage – bound possibly for one of the infamous "ship-breaking" beach­­es of Asia to be cut up and sold as scrap.

While the 682-foot SS Oceanic might still survive as a floating hotel or casino, her voyage is controversial. That's because the ship left San Francisco last month laden with an estimated 460 tons of asbestos and toxic PCBs embedded in its electrical and engine-room systems.

Just how dangerous that 58-year-old vessel would be if it is scrapped on a beach in the developing world, and how it managed to leave US waters despite laws prohibiting PCB waste exports are questions the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is investigating.

But the Oceanic case also highlights a serious regulatory failure, obse…

EPA Sues US Ship Broker for Illegal Export but Allows 'Toxic Timebomb' to Sail Away

Government is Allowing Toxic Traders to "Get Away with It"

Saipan/Seattle/New Delhi, March 20, 2008– Following a tip from the Basel Action Network (BAN) and Save the Classic Liners Campaign, the US Environmental Protection Agency has filed suit against a well known "cashbuyer" that routinely buys ships from all over the world and sends them to the notorious breaking beaches of Bangladesh, Pakistan and India for exporting the aged 682 foot ocean liner known as the SS Oceanic (previously known as the SS Independence). But the activist groups were appalled that the EPA is simply slapping a fine on the perpetrators and is not taking action to halt the violation and send the ship back to the US.

According to BAN the ship is a "toxic time bomb" for the laborers on the infamous shipbreaking beaches of South Asia as the ship is loaded with an estimated 210 tons of toxic polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contaminated material and an estimated 250 tons of asbesto…

EPA Sues US Ship Broker for Illegal Export but Allows 'Toxic Timebomb' to Sail Away

Government is Allowing Toxic Traders to "Get Away with It"

Saipan/Seattle/New Delhi, March 20, 2008– Following a tip from the Basel Action Network (BAN) and Save the Classic Liners Campaign, the US Environmental Protection Agency has filed suit against a well known "cashbuyer" that routinely buys ships from all over the world and sends them to the notorious breaking beaches of Bangladesh, Pakistan and India for exporting the aged 682 foot ocean liner known as the SS Oceanic (previously known as the SS Independence). But the activist groups were appalled that the EPA is simply slapping a fine on the perpetrators and is not taking action to halt the violation and send the ship back to the US.

According to BAN the ship is a "toxic time bomb" for the laborers on the infamous shipbreaking beaches of South Asia as the ship is loaded with an estimated 210 tons of toxic polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contaminated material and an estimated 250 tons of asbesto…

USEPA files complaint against SS Independence (Oceanic)

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U.S. EPA files complaint against ship brokers for violations of Toxic Substances Control Act

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a federal complaint on 18th March against Global Shipping and Global Marketing Systems, Inc. for distribution in commerce and export of PCB-containing materials on the MV Oceanic, formerly the SS Independence, a ship being sent by Global to be scrapped overseas.

Fines against these two companies may be assessed up to $32,500 per violation per day. The MV Pacific Hickory is towing the MV Oceanic to its final destination.

“Federal law prohibits companies from exporting PCBs, including those in ships, that are sent overseas to be scrapped,” said Rich Vaille, Associate Director for waste program enforcement in EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “When companies illegally export PCB waste, they are circumventing U.S. requirements for proper disposal. PCB waste must be properly disposed to protect public health and the environment.”

Global has …

Otapan precedent

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Otapan is indeed a success almost like Le Clemenceau and it sets a precedent too unlike SS Norway (Blue Lady) where Germany's role left a lot to be desired because it connived at the dismantling of the Le Clemenceau precedent.

The Otapan (IMO: 6508561, Port of Registry: Coatzacoalcos, Mexico) is a tanker, which became well-known in Holland in the period between 1999 and 2006 when it was chained up in Amsterdam because she contained asbestos. In August 2006 the ship even gained international fame when it left for Turkey for demolition, but the Turkish authorities refused to allow the ship because the Dutch authorities had registered the ship to have a lower amount of asbestos than was really on board. After this the vessel returned to Amsterdam again.

The Otapan is a 168 metres long, 26 metres wide chemical tanker especially built for the transportating of melted sulfur. The vessel contained 5 tanks with a total capacity of 400,000 cubic feet which kept the sulfur fluid at a tempera…

MJ Akbar parts ways with Deccan Chronicle, Asian Age; politics next?

MJ Akbar, Editor-in-Chief, The Asian Age and Deccan Chronicle, has just brought to an end another glorious chapter in an illustrious career. It had been known for a while that he may be parting ways with Chairman T Venkattram Reddy. Finally, MJ, as he is fondly known among his friends and colleagues, demitted office on March 2, 2008, with a crisp and touching farewell note to his colleagues. His name was missing that morning from the paper’s printline, perhaps prompting him to say that he may have “overstayed his welcome”.

March 2 was a Sunday, and the masthead of the magazine, whose stewardship he took up more than three decades ago in Kolkata, also bore the same nomenclature, ‘SUNDAY’. That marked the beginning of a brilliant career, during which he established investigative journalism as a media weapon to expose the murky side of our society and politics.

I could not resist the temptation of reproducing his farewell note, which a friend passed on to me. It speaks volumes of the spiri…

Fugitive Toxic Ocean Liner Now Believed to be Nearing Guam

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Mariners are Asked to Report Whereabouts and to Avoid Selling Ship Fuel

Guam/Seattle– An aged 682 foot ocean liner known as the SS Oceanic (previously known as the SS Independence), loaded with an estimated 210 tons of toxic polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contaminated material and an estimated 250 tons of asbestos as part of its construction[1], is expected to arrive within days in the vicinity of Guam where it will be needing to be refueled in order to continue its nefarious voyage. According to the Basel Action Network (BAN) and Save the Classic Liners Campaign, the export of the 1950 classic ship, recently owned by Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) and mothballed in San Francisco Bay, does not pose a toxic threat currently to Guam, or the marine environment, but is a "toxic time bomb" for the laborers on the infamous shipbreaking beaches of Bangladesh, India or Pakistan where the ship is thought to be heading. There the shipbreaking operations endanger workers and the immediate…

Ocean Liner's Final Voyage to Asia Under Scrutiny

Ocean Liner's Final Voyage to Asia Under Scrutiny
By Steve Herman
New Delhi
29 February 2008

A disabled passenger ship being towed across the Pacific Ocean is rekindling debate about how such vessels are scrapped. VOA correspondent Steve Herman reports from New Delhi.

The 'SS Independence' (file photo)
The 'SS Independence' (file photo)
A once glorious ocean liner is finding rough sailing as it is towed across the Pacific, likely en route to South Asia to be dismantled and sold for scrap.

The vessel, formerly the S.S. Independence, is the last U.S.-built ocean liner to sail under the American flag. After being laid up in San Francisco for the past six years it is apparently on a final voyage to India, Pakistan or Bangladesh, the hub of the world's ship-breaking industry.

Environmentalists say the 20,000 ton vessel is on a rogue journey, because it is in breach of U.S. and international laws that prohibit the export of toxic waste.

Jim Puckett is with the toxic trade watc…