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RULING ON U.S. 'GHOST FLEET'

U.S. District Judge Rosemary M. Collyer's ruling was contained in a 34-page decision, dismissing the lawsuits of the Sierra Club and the Basel Action Network on technical grounds. In 2003, MARAD announced the $17.8 million contract with Able UK, a recycling company. Four ships from the fleet have been docked in Hartlepool, England since 2003, awaiting the outcome of the environmental lawsuits.

MARAD is under a September 2006 deadline to get rid of more than 100 obsolete ships, which are stored in Virginia, Texas, California, and Alabama. Approximately 70 of the James River fleet ships are considered hazardous, because of the PCBs, oil, lead, mercury, and asbestos still onboard.

English environmental groups have also filed lawsuits stating that they do not want America's toxic ships on their soil. U.K. regulators have determined that Able UK does not have the permits to break the ships in the country. Able is still pursuing the proper permits.