Feds: Companies to pay $518K penalty for exporting toxic ship

The following is the text of a press release issued by the Environmental Protection Agency:


(SAN FRANCISCO) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has settled an administrative complaint against Global Shipping LLC and Global Marketing Systems, Inc. for alleged illegal distribution and export of a PCB-containing ship.

The companies will pay a total of $518,500 to resolve the two Toxic Substances Control Act violations. Global Marketing Systems, Inc. will pay a penalty of $32,500 and Global Shipping LLC will pay a penalty of $486,000.

Global Shipping LLC purchased and held the Oceanic, a cruise ship formerly named the SS Independence, for the purpose of export beginning on or about July 24, 2007 and continuing until the vessel left the United States on or about February 8, 2008. EPA alleged that the ship contained PCBs and that holding a vessel containing PCBs for purposes of export for disposal constitutes unauthorized distribution in commerce of PCBs.

“Companies need to ensure PCBs are removed from any ship being exported in order to protect public health and the environment from exposure to PCBs,†said Jeff Scott, division director for waste programs in the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “Federal law prohibits companies from exporting PCBs for disposal, including PCBs built into ship components, unless approval from EPA has been obtained.”

On or about February 8, 2008, the ship was towed out of the territorial waters of the United States. EPA alleged that Global Shipping LLC and its affiliated company Global Marketing Systems, Inc. worked together to export the Oceanic for disposal outside the United States, a violation of federal law. The EPA was not informed by Global of their intention to export the ship for disposal.

After EPA initiated its enforcement action, Global submitted a new application to the Maritime Administration seeking approval to sell the vessel but changing the purpose of export from disposal to continued use of the vessel to accommodate labor workers in the Arabian Gulf area. Under the Toxic Substances Control Act, EPA also regulates export for continued use of materials containing regulated levels of PCBs.

Export of PCB materials from the United States is a violation of EPA’s Toxic Substances Control Act unless export authorization has been granted by EPA pursuant to the procedures established under the Toxic Substances Control Act. Vessels built before 1979, such as the Oceanic, may contain PCBs in various materials including cables, electrical equipment such as capacitors and transformers, gaskets and watertight seal material, and painted surfaces.

More than 1.5 billion pounds of PCBs were manufactured in the United States before the EPA banned the production of this chemical class. PCBs were commonly used in paints, industrial equipment, plastics, and rubber products. EPA banned this class of chemicals after tests showed that PCBs cause cancer in animals and adversely affect the nervous, immune, and endocrine systems in humans.

For more information on PCB regulation and enforcement, as well as enforcement of U.S. laws related to toxic materials in general, please visit: http://www.epa.gov/pcb/pubs/laws.htm. Or: http://www.epa.gov/Compliance/. For information on PCBs, please visit: http://www.epa.gov/pcb/.

By Professional Mariner Staff