Environmental groups filed suit last week in California federal court against the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) alleging the agency failed to adequately regulate a federal ship sinking program, which the groups assert pollutes the sea with toxic polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
The federal program, known as SINKEX, allows the Navy to engage in live fire exercises on decommissioned naval warships to practice gunnery, torpedo accuracy, and missile drills, while simultaneously disposing of obsolete ships. Basel Action Network (BAN) and the Sierra Club allege in their complaint that the ship disposal activities of the federal program pose a substantial and unreasonable risk to human health and the environment because PCBs present in electrical cable insulation, fiberglass bulkhead insulation, paints, adhesives or rubber mounts and gaskets aboard the old vessels eventually leach into the marine environment. Once these PCBs enter the marine environment they accumulate in the bodies of fish and other marine organisms that humans consume.
The groups have asked the court to compel EPA to initiate rulemaking under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which authorizes EPA to regulate the disposal of PCBs, to more stringently regulate the Navy’s remediation of vessels designated for sink exercises, or, alternatively, to revisit the program’s ocean dumping permit.
Continue reading →