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EPA acts on 'toxic' ship

Agency cites Baltimore firms for violating US environmental law, says it was not informed of owners' intent.

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A bit more has been revealed about the old ocean liner once called the SS Independence – now dubbed the Oceanic – and the toxic PCB wastes believed to be on board as it is towed to its final destination, most likely a scrap yard overseas. (See: "Aged ships a toxic export," March 19.)

It's now known who the owners are, and that the Environmental Protection Agency is persuaded that they intend to scrap it, according to a federal complaint and a public statement issued by the EPA March 18. EPA cited two Baltimore companies for violating US environmental laws by exporting PCB-containing materials on board the Oceanic.

The EPA said it would levy a civil fine of $32,500 a day against Global Shipping LLC and Global Marketing Sys­tems Inc., both headquartered at the same address. The fines are for violating the Toxic Substances Control Act.

"Federal law prohibits companies from exporting PCBs, including those in ships that are sent overseas to be scrapped," said Rich Vaille, associate director for waste program enforcement in EPA's Pacific Southwest region, in a statement. "[T]hey are circumventing US requirements for proper disposal. PCB waste must be properly disposed to protect public health and the environment."

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