and readily detachable solid PCB items.”19 Readily detachable or readily removable solid PCB items means items can be removed in a cost effective and efficient manner without the use of heat, chemical stripping, scraping and abrasive blasting or similar processes.20
While removal of liquid PCBs found in transformers and capacitors is required to the maximum extent practical prior to vessel sinking, the removal of material containing solid-matrix PCBs is not required to the maximum extent practical. Only readily detachable solid PCB items are required. In fact, the SINKEX general permit issued by the EPA under 40 CFR 229 states “The Navy may leave in place wire cables, felt gaskets and other felt materials that are bonded in bolted flanges or mounted under heavy equipment, paints, adhesives, rubber mounts and gaskets and other objects in which the Navy has found PCBs…”
Clearly, the general SINKEX permit granted to the Navy does not fulfill the requirements of the MPRSA “to remove to the maximum extent practicable all materials which may degrade the marine environment.” Further, the MPRSA is not providing proper implementation of the London Convention as the London Convention prohibits the dumping of any Annex I substance, such as PCBs, except in trace amounts.
Under MPRSA section 104(d), EPA is to periodically review and revise permits issued under the MPRSA. EPA has the authority “to alter or revoke partially or entirely the terms of permits where it finds, based on monitoring data from the dump site and surrounding area that such materials cannot be dumped consistently with the criteria and other factors required to be applied in evaluating a permit
Navy Frequently Asked Questions, SINKEX
Agreement).” Further, the EPA Office of Water, Wetlands and Watersheds stated that they were “prepared to revise the Navy permit, or revoke it, in the event that the results of further studies demonstrate an unexpected unacceptable risk to human health or the environment from SINKEX.”21
As discussed later in this report, the general permit which authorizes ocean dumping under SINKEX, should be revoked based on post- sinking monitoring studies that have now revealed elevated PCB leach rates from sunken vessels that are detrimental to human health and the environment. See Human Health Risk section for recent results from the sunken Ex- ORISKANY.
The crew of the GEORGE H.W. BUSH Carrier Strike Group looks on as the USNS SATURN is sunk in October 2010 as part of a SINKEX training event off the Atlantic coast. The 10,205 ton vessel was built in 1965, and likely contained PCBs above trace contaminant levels during sinking. Image Source: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jason C. Winn
Official letter from Carol Browner, EPA Administrator, to Richard Danzig, Secretary of the Navy, September 13, 1999 21
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