February 26, 2008
Toxic ship not that toxic
The U.S. Coast Guard in Guam is down playing reports that the former U.S.-flag liner SS Oceanic (formerly SS Independence) poses any toxic threat to Guam.
The ship left San Francisco on February 8 under tow for scrapping in India. The move has not pleased the Basel Action Network, an environmental group concerned about the export of toxic ships and has also upset preservationists who would like to see the U.S. the National Historic Preservation Act used to prevent its being scrapped.
However, while the ship may present a potential hazard to those scrapping it, in an interview on a Guam radio show Captain William R. Marhoffer, Commander, U.S. Coast Guard Sector Guam, said the ship posed no toxic risk should refueling facilties be requested in Guam. He also said no refueling request had been received--and that reports that the ship had been refused entry to Hawaii were also false.
Commander Marhoffer said that the U.S. EPA might have a concern about a "potential legal risk" of export violation under the U.S. Toxic Substances Control Act and not that the ship poses a public health or environmental risk.