Environmentalists, Water Regulators Concerned by Fleet Decision

Water-quality officials are expressing concern today following the Bush administration's abrupt decision to move forward with the breaking up of old warships rotting in California's "mothball fleet."

The federal Maritime Administration announced yesterday that it would next month lift its moratorium on disposing of the ships.

More than 50 are rusting in limbo northeast of San Francisco, a collection of troop transports, tankers and other vessels.

Such a step would set in motion the towing of some vessels from a shallow estuary to the former Naval Air Station Alameda, where the warships would be scrubbed of sea life before being hauled to a ship-breaking facility in Texas.

That scrubbing causes toxic paint to flake off into the water, and that is what worries environmentalists and state water-quality regulators.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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