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INTRODUCTION

Based on faulty analysis and traditional assumptions, the U.S. Federal government has deliberately dumped 600,000 tons of recyclable steel, aluminum and copper at sea over the past decade via the U.S. Navy and U.S. Maritime

Administration

(MARAD)

ship

disposal

programs. These recyclable resources, existing within the hulls of 95 retired naval vessels, are valued at an estimated $600 million in today’s

commodities

marketplace;

however,

these

materials now waste away on the ocean floor with all material value forever lost. Lost too are some 20,000 jobs from the economy at large, both green recycling jobs and those indirectly related to the industry, in a time when

unemployment rates are debilitating American economy and way of life.

the

The Federal government’s ocean dumping programs are not solely an economic conundrum; these dumping efforts also pollute the marine environment with toxic materials and heavy metals that forever alter the marine ecosystem. The U.S. government, charged with preventing environmental harm and protecting its natural resources, is guilty of strengthening the paradigm of pollution economics – that is, the practice of making provisional gains (reducing fleet size in this case) without accounting for externalized environmental costs that are forever endured by the taxpayers, the

What is SINKEX?

The Navy’s sinking exercise (SINKEX) program allows the Navy to fire on inactive naval warships to practice gunnery and torpedo accuracy, while also disposing of unwanted ships at sea. From 1970-1999 SINKEX accounted for 8% of all Navy vessel disposals; but from 2000-2008, SINKEX accounted for an alarming 70% of all disposals.

SINKEX is permitted by the U.S. EPA under a general ocean dumping permit. This general permit allows naval vessels to be sunk with toxic materials left onboard, materials that are known to create hazards to human health and marine life as they transfer through the food chain.

Image at Right: Ex-USS CONOLLY disposed at sea in April 2009 via SINKEX. Image Source: U.S. Navy Photo by LT Chris Brown

INTRODUCTION

global commons and future generations.

This

report

explores

the

economic,

environmental and human health costs, as well as the legal implications of the Federal

government’s

ocean

dumping

practices,

focusing solely on the use of ships as artificial reefs in U.S. coastal waters, and the use of ships as subjects of the Navy’s SINKEX program (disposal by sinking during military target practice exercises).

This report follows the sinking of five vessels in 2010, but comes prior to five planned sinkings announced in 2011, including that of the Ex- ARTHUR RADFORD, Ex-NIAGARA FALLS, Ex-CONCORD, Ex-KILAUEA and EX- CORONADO all destined to be scuttled in U.S. waters.

This report concludes that domestic recycling of U.S. naval vessels is the only honorable form of disposal as it is the only method that ensures a legacy of a clean and non-toxic world for future generations. Recycling honors the environment, human health and the economy; it creates green recycling jobs for Americans, while also remaining consistent with the letter and spirit of established national and international policies, principles and laws.

BASEL ACTION NETWORK

1

2011

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