MARAD's Ghost Fleet Continues to be National Nightmare

The lawsuit by three environmental groups over the disposal of the ships from fleet to the U.K. is scheduled to be heard during August. However, now there is another suit which has been filed by the Clark family of Williamsburg, Virginia that will further complicate the aging fleet's disposition.

A lawsuit filed by Morton H. Clark, a retired maritime attorney and Navy veteran, says the James River Reserve Fleet (Ghost Fleet) should be removed and scrapped without delay. It seems that the Morton and Lynn Clark bought a home in resort area of Kingsmill in Williamsburg.

According to Clark, he and his wife are concerned that a storm or hurricane could cause the ships to sink or run adrift and that the fuel from the ships would be all over area. Clark also said that MARAD and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have violated the Clean Water Act and other national laws governing hazardous waste by not already disposing of the aging fleet, which is loaded with chemicals and waste.

The other lawsuit filed by Earthjustice, the Sierra Club, and the Basel Action Network is about the contact with Able U.K. for the disposal of 13 ships worth $17.8 million. Under protest from groups in the U.S. and the U.K., four ships were towed last year to the U.K.

The environmental groups filed their suit to stop the remaining nine ships from being sent to the U.K., based on the export of hazardous wastes such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which export is against federal law.

MARAD wants to consolidate the two lawsuits in order to save time and money, but Mr. Clark says his lawsuit has nothing to do with the export of hazardous waste to foreign countries, and that his suit should be heard in a different forum.