Lessons from the US 'ghost ship' saga

The high-profile row over the shipment of 13 obsolete US military ships to a Teesside dismantling yard has left the contractor, Able UK, with spiralling legal and contractual headaches. At the centre of the dispute lies PCB contamination which Able claims amounts to no more than 35kg out of 120,000 tonnes of scrap. However, the Environment Agency faces embarrassing questions as to how it came to authorise shipments to a site which had yet to obtain the necessary permits. The case may offer a taste of things to come as governments face up to a legacy of hazardous substances in thousands of vessels world-wide.

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