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Navy Over the course of 30 years from 1970 to 1999, 178 Navy vessels were sunk via SINKEX (disposal by sinking during military target practice exercises), an average of 6 vessels per

year,154

amounting to 8% of all Navy ship

disposals during this period. However, since 1997, the Navy has sunk on average 10 vessels

per

year.155

From

2000-2008,

SINKEX

accounted for approximately 70% of all Navy

ship

disposals;

39

vessels

were

recycled

domestically during this same period. SINKEX remains the primary method of vessel disposal for the Navy.

Today, all decommissioned vessels that do not satisfy requirements or needs of the vessel sales program to foreign governments or the vessel donation program for historic restoration of ships as memorials and museums become available for the following disposal methods: 1) use as target vessels for weapons testing via sinking exercise (SINKEX); 2) are relegated to becoming artificial reefs; or 3) are available for domestic recycling.

While the government ship disposal programs can utilize all disposal methods at their discretion, the Navy places domestic recycling as their last option of consideration, stating “A

ship

becomes

a

candidate

for

ship

dismantlement once it is stricken from the Naval Vessel Register and the ship is not a candidate for donation, SINKEX, Artificial Reefing or a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) transfer.”156 The Navy further clarifies this preferential disposal order in their Addendum Report to the FY 2009 Report to Congress: “With the exception of nuclear-powered ships, dismantling is the lowest priority for disposal

RAND Report Pg. 17 http://www.navsea.navy.mil/teamships/Inactiveships/SINKEX/ FAQ_sinkex.aspx 156http://www.navsea.navy.mil/teamships/Inactiveships/Ship_Dis posal/FAQ_disposal.aspx 154 155

ALTERNATIVES TO OCEAN DUMPING

of ships and is used when other options are not feasible.” 157

However, the Navy’s preferential hierarchy of waste management flies in the face of EPA’s preferred waste management hierarchy, which in order of preference is reduce, reuse, recycle, and disposal only utilized as a last resort.

Furthermore, the Navy’s preferential disposal

order

ignores

the

Obama

Administration

Federal government “Lead by Example” mandate under his October 2009 Executive

Order 13514:

Federal

Leadership in

Environmental,

Energy,

and Economic

Performance. This Order prioritizes recycling and waste diversion as policy, but the Navy’s ship disposal program remains non-compliant, as it does not prefer recycling and material recovery over that of disposal.

Finally, the artificial reefing authority granted unto the Navy by Congress in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 contradicts the Navy’s preferential disposal order described above; “Nothing in this section shall be construed to establish a preference for the use as artificial reefs of vessels stricken from the Naval Vessel Register in lieu of other authorized uses of such vessels, including the domestic scrapping of such vessels, or other disposals of such vessels, under this chapter or other applicable authority (Section 1013 (g)).” The Navy has unduly exercised their ocean disposal authority, when Congress themselves clearly stated authority to dispose of vessels at sea should not be used to establish a preference over that of domestic scrapping.

Yet the Navy has continued their prioritization of reefing with the transfer on June 8, 2010 of the Ex-USS ARTHUR RADFORD to the States of Delaware, New Jersey and Maryland for artificial reefing at an approximate cost of $200,000 to the Navy. Domestic recyclers

Report to Congress on Annual Long-Range Plan for Construction of Naval Vessels for FY 2009 (Page A-4) 157

BASEL ACTION NETWORK

53

2011

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