SS Independence – EPA Issues Formal Complaint To NCL and Oceanic

John Konrad
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March 19, 2008

M/V IndependencePhoto By Tunnelbug

In a new twist on the story of the S/S Independence, the EPA has issued a federal complaint for the illegal export of PCB’s. You may remember that while en route to ship breakers Hawaii had banned the ship from docking for fear the ship would be arrested on similar charges and left to decay in the island state. The Environmental News Service tells us:

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a federal complaint against Global Shipping and Global Marketing Systems, Inc. for distribution in commerce and export of materials containing PCBs on the old cruise liner MV Oceanic, formerly the SS Independence.

The ship is being sent by Global to be scrapped overseas, the EPA declared. The MV Pacific Hickory is towing the MV Oceanic to its final destination.

Fines against these two companies may be assessed up to $32,500 per violation per day.

“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 the 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.”

“The EPA was not informed by Global of their intention to export the ship for disposal. The previous owners, Norwegian Cruise Lines, bought the ship through a wholly owned subsidiary with the intent to put it into service in the United States. The paperwork showing that Norwegian Cruise Lines had sold the vessel to Global was not submitted to the Maritime Administration until the ship had already sailed,” the EPA said.

The Basel Action Network, a global toxic trade watchdog organization based in the United States, in February alerted the EPA to the “quiet departure” of the Oceanic from San Francisco Bay on February 8 for the stated destination of Singapore.

Export of PCB materials from the United States is a violation of EPA’s Toxic Substances Control Act, said Vaille. Vessels such as the MV Oceanic, which was built in the early 1950s, were commonly constructed with PCB-containing materials including cables, electrical equipment such as capacitors and transformers, watertight seal material, and painted surfaces.
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