"The Bush administration's decision to move these toxic ships was reckless," said Aaron Isherwood, an attorney for the Sierra Club, which was one of the plaintiffs along with the Basel Action Network. "Just bringing this case to court brought the time and scrutiny needed to reduce safety risks at home and abroad."
The groups point out that as a result of the lawsuit:
"We may have lost this round on technical grounds," said Martin Wagner of Earthjustice, "but along the way we have forced MARAD to comply with all applicable US and international standards governing hazardous waste exports. This is a genuine victory for concerned citizens in both countries."
"The case has helped to raise awareness that there is significant capacity for ship scrapping here in the United States and it is just plain irresponsible to outsource jobs or toxic waste," said Jim Puckett of the Basel Action Network.
The conservation groups strongly support the removal of the ships from the James River and other locations for recycling as soon and as safely as possible. In addition to the immediate safety problems posed by MARAD's poor planning for the "ghost fleet," the groups also expressed concerns about the overall likelihood that MARAD will consider resuming the dangerous exports and dumping of asbestos and PCB laden vessels to the shipbreaking yards of Asia.
"We still have major concerns about the Bush administration's growing role in the toxic waste trade," added Sierra Club's Isherwood. "If we are serious about building trust around the world, America needs to demonstrate a clearer commitment to public safety and environmental justice beyond its borders."