03.02.2010 Federal Court Says Reserve Fleet Violates Clean Water and Hazardous Waste Laws
03.02.2010A federal district court in California has held that idle vessels in the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet (“SBRF”) are violating the federal Clean Water Act and hazardous waste laws. In Arc Ecology v. Maritime Administration, No. 2:07-cv-2320-GEBGGH (E.D. Cal., Jan. 20, 2010), the court found that the leaching and sloughing of exfoliating paint and other materials from the vessels constitute illegal discharges under the Clean Water Act (“CWA”). It also held that the accumulation of paint debris onboard the vessels constitutes illegal storage of hazardous wastes in violation of California law and the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”). The Maritime Administration (“MARAD”) within the U.S. Department of Transportation is responsible for the SBRF. MARAD had previously designated over 50 of the SBRF vessels as “non-retention,” meaning that they were no longer commercially or militarily useful. The court’s holding was limited to the non-retention vessels. A later hearing will determine penalties and relief. But this case already has ominous implications for the Hampton Roads Reserve Fleet, as well as scores of commercial vessels idled by the economic recession.
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