The EPA manages the permitting process as described in the Memorandum of Agreement for exceptions to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). But the transboundary movement of old ships is governed by more than just the exporting country. For importing and transit countries, that are among the more than 170
Parties to importation
the Basel Convention, the of ships containing hazardous
waste as part of their structure from the United States is likely to be a violation of their law. This is due to the fact that the Basel Convention forbids trade in hazardous wastes between Parties and non-Parties and the U.S. is currently a non-Party to the Basel Convention. Thus the competent authorities assigned by the Basel Convention in importing and transit countries are likely to have regulatory oversight over exports of ships for scrap and are very likely to deem this importation illegal.
ii. Capacity World ship scrapping volume from 1998-2008 was 68 million tons. The MARAD and Navy scrapping requirements for this same period
at 2 million tons, representing a
Overseas ship scrapping industries
are well equipped to manage U.S. demand, but they lack the facilities to manage hazardous waste material in an environmentally sound manner.
iii. Environmental Considerations The discovery of PCBs in various shipboard components lead to the suspension of overseas scrapping of government owned vessels in 1994. A federal moratorium on overseas scrapping followed in 1998 as a result of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) regulations on the export of PCBs and the Baltimore Sun articles. The EPA provided a formal process allowing exemptions to the overseas scrapping moratorium.
Report of the Interagency Panel on Ship Scrapping, 1998
ALTERNATIVES TO OCEAN DUMPING
Overseas scrapping is available to MARAD under the following possibilities:
a. MARAD can seek exceptions through the EPA rule-making. Following the BAN/Sierra Club court case in which MARAD sought to export 13 PCB laden vessels to the UK outside of the norms of TSCA rulemaking and were challenged on those grounds, it is unlikely that any “enforcement discretion” absent the public process of rulemaking required by TSCA would be allowed and such rulemaking would need to be done on a case by case basis.
Act of 2001,
b. Congress can modify TSCA to allow for PCB export. In the National Defense Authorization
“whether it is necessary to amend the Toxic
any other regulatory
requirements relevant to the disposal of vessels…” This option would be detrimental to the environment and the integrity of Congress. Such a move would also be contrary to the Basel and Stockholm Conventions, which the U.S. has signed and has thus indicated intent to ratify. It would also likely be in violation of the following international accords that the U.S. has ratified:
Organization for Development’s
Economic Cooperation 1998 Decision of the
Council Concerning the Control Transfrontier Movement of Waste
Agreement between the U.S. and Canada Concerning the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Waste Agreement between the U.S. and Mexico on the Cooperation for the Protection and Improvement of the Environment in the Border Area.
Allowing export of hazardous waste laden ships to developing country scrap yards would of course lead to devastating occupational health and environmental damage that is now well documented, particularly in the South Asian beaching operations practiced in Alang, India; Gadani, Pakistan; and Chittagong, Bangladesh.
BASEL ACTION NETWORK