EPA May Inspect a Ship for PCB

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has authority under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to obtain and exercise an administrative warrant to inspect ships containing regulated chemical substances. In the instant case, the owner of an obsolete US Navy ship announced plans to have the ship towed to a foreign port for renovation and conversion. The EPA learned that the ship probably had polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) on board in quantities subject to regulation and might well be scrapped rather than renovated. The agency sought permission from the owner to inspect the ship, but was denied. It then sought an administrative warrant from the local federal district court. Over the objection of the owner, the court issued the administrative warrant and issued an injunction prohibiting removal of the ship until the warrant was executed. The owner appealed. The appellate court ruled that an agency with the statutory authority to inspect a premises has the inherent authority to obtain and execute an administrative warrant to enforce that authority. In this case, the application for the warrant was found to be supported by probable cause. In addition, the court ruled that the ship was a premises subject to inspection under TSCA.

United States v. M/V SANCTUARY, No. 07-2123 (4th Cir., August 25, 2008).

Source: HK Law

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