NEW YORK Southern
Recycling LLC (SoRec) has joined a number of environmental
groups in their efforts toward the revision of a general permit
that regulates the sinking of U.S. Navy vessels, citing
differences in procedures outlined for the removal of
polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from the ships prior to
Earlier this year, the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asked for public comment
on two petitions requesting the amendment of a permit under the
Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act (MPRSA), which
regulates the transportation and dumping of materials into
The permit relates to the
removal of PCBs from ships used in the Navys SinkEx
program, which uses obsolete vessels for target practice by
military personnel for training and testing purposes, and leads
to the consequent sinking of the vessels. Vessels used for
SinkEx are prepared according to the terms of the MPRSA general
permit issued to the Navy.
Environmental groups Sierra Club
and Basel Action Network asked the EPA to amend the MPRSA
general permit to require SinkEx to comply with the MPRSA,
which regulates the disposal of PCBs into ocean waters,
according to a June 2011 petition.
The groups asked that the permit
be amended to require materials containing PCBs to be removed
from ships to the "maximum extent practicable with the best
current techniques" prior to sinking.
In a second petition, dated
April 2012, both environmental groups and the Center for
Biological Diversity again requested that the EPA amend the
permit. The groups proposed that all PCB-contaminated materials
in concentrations of 50 parts per million (ppm) and above be
removed from vessels prior to sinking, while concentrations
below 50 ppm be removed from vessels prior to sinking to the
"maximum extent practicable."
New Orleans-based recycler
SoRec, a wholly owned subsidiary of England-based Eastern Metal
Recycling LLC (EMR), filed its letter in support of the
petitions on May 6, the deadline for comment.
In SoRecs letter, Polly
Parks of the recyclers Washington, D.C., office said the
company is the highest-volume marine ferrous producer in the
country, dismantling all marine ferrous material in adherence
with the Toxic Substances Control Acts (TSCAs) PCB
provisions and a slate of other federal, state and local
environmental and occupational safety laws.
"We cannot fathom why the
Environmental Protection Agency has signed off on the pollution
of international and territorial waters when there is a viable
domestic industry that can remediate and dismantle the U.S.
Navy vessels to U.S. environmental and safety standardsa
domestic industry that supplies a critical raw material to the
nations steel production industry that recycles the metal
back into the nations infrastructure, national security
apparatus and export markets," she wrote.
Parks said the company has
reviewed Navy reports to the EPA from 2000 to 2010 and found
that the Navy used a variety of contractors, "none of whom
apparently followed the November 30, 1995, EPA draft guidance
Sampling Ships for PCBs Regulated for Disposal (1995
Draft Guidance), or any other approved TSCA sampling
regime to determine the presence of solid or liquid PCBs under
Parks said the EPA did not
publish annual reports submitted by the Navy and refused a
request during the public comment period to post the reports on
"Instead, the EPA allowed the
U.S. Navy to sink over 90 U.S. Navy vessels during the first
decade of the 21st century without adequate remediation" of
PCBs, Parks said.
"As neither the EPA nor the U.S.
Navy sought out domestic metal recycling industry input into
its methodology and practice on preparing U.S. Navy vessels for
the SinkEx exercises, we have no recourse but to support the
petition by the Basel Action Network, the Sierra Club, and the
Center for Biological Diversity to revise the SinkEx general
permit," she said.