According to the Daily Press, MarAd has lifted a moratorium on the disposal of ships in the James River Reserve Fleet, clearing the way for more of the rusting ships in the ghost fleet
to be removed.
The agency had put a temporary freeze on ship disposal last
month while state agencies nationwide disputed how the ship hulls are cleaned. The environmental dispute is holding up disposal work in California and Texas, but Virginia officials have let the work proceed.
Since last year, the Coast Guard has required that ship hulls be brushed to remove marine growth that may have accumulated before it is towed to foreign waters. Some complained the process could remove lead paint or decayed metals that end up in the water.
Three ships slated to be removed from the fleet before the moratorium could now leave Virginia as early as mid-May, said Shannon Russell
, a spokeswoman for the maritime agency. Additional ships could leave the fleet later this year.
About 45 ships remain in the fleet anchored off of Fort Eustis. Those decaying ships could pose an environmental risk as they age.
While the state Department of Environmental Quality approved of the disposal work proceeding, it asked the maritime agency to clean the ship hulls in dry-dock facilities instead of in open waters.