Toxic Ship Firm Fined $500k for Illegal Sale of Deadly PCBs
by Andrew Williams, Red, Green, and Blue
30 January 2009 – The US Environmental Protection Agency has imposed a record fine on a toxic ship dealer for attempting to export a ship containing deadly polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) to the infamous shipbreaking beaches of South Asia.
Toxic Trade pressure group Basel Action Network claimed victory after Global Shipping LLC and Global Marketing Systems, Inc. were ordered to pay $518,500 for the alleged illegal distribution and export of a ship containing PCBs in violation of the Toxic Substances Control Act.
Commenting on the judgement, Jim Puckett, Executive Director of Basel Action Network said, ”While half a million dollars is not much of a financial deterrent for such actors when a single ship can be worth well over $5 million in scrap steel, they are now on notice - another such export would be a “knowing and willful” criminal violation, and they could find themselves behind bars.”
The action was brought after Basel Action Network and the Save the Classic Liners Campaign informed the EPA when they discovered that Global Marketing Systems, Inc. had bought the SS Oceanic, a cruise ship formerly known as the SS Independence.
The company towed the toxic ship out of San Francisco Bay intending to scrap the vessel on the beaches of India and Bangladesh in South Asia.
“While the Oceanic wasn’t recalled to the U.S., we’re very happy that EPA took their job seriously and that one of the world’s leading exporters and exploiters of the infamous shipbreaking beaches of South Asia has finally been held to account,” said Puckett.
Around 700 toxic ships are exported to the once pristine beaches of Asia for scrapping. The coastline is now strewn with a cocktail of polluting material including, machinery parts, oil rags and leaking barrels. The local air is poisoned by open fires, the land and surrounding water are contaminated by asbestos, heavy metals, dioxins and other persistent organic pollutants and the workers are unprotected from toxic substances, explosions and falling steel.
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