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Military Waste Shipboarded-U.S. Condemned as “Toxic Criminal”

Date Posted: 2000-06-02

Greenpeace activists from Japan, Canada and the United States boarded the container ship MV Wanhe in Yokohama, Japan, demanding that the United States take responsibility for environmentally sound, non-incineration disposal of the toxic industrial chemical waste on board. The cargo consists of 14 containers of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from US military bases in Japan. Greenpeace condemned the US government for trying to illegally ship hazardous PCB waste into Canada from US military bases in Japan. After boarding the ship, the team of four women displayed a banner reading "USA -Toxic Criminal".

The toxic PCB shipment on board the MV Wanhe is being returned to Japan after the dock workers in Seattle refused to unload the cargo and environmentalists threatened a lawsuit. The military waste shipment left Seattle on Friday 7th April and sailed to its next port of call, Vancouver, with the waste containers still on board. Since the Canadian authorities had already denied the shipment from being offloaded, the MV Wanhe left Vancouver 9th April for Japan. The waste is being returned to Japan for one month before being reshipped to a yet undisclosed location.

"The US Department of Defence has made a mess by trying to secretly dispose of this waste. The shipment was not allowed into the US nor into Canada for incineration. It is irresponsible for them to send it back to Japan without a proposal for an environmentally acceptable solution for detoxification of the waste," said Matt Ruchel, Toxics Campaigner for Greenpeace International."Promising non-incineration technologies already exist and are being used for example to clean up of hazardous wastes dumped at the 2000 Summer Olympics site at Homebush Bay, in Sydney, Australia. It is crucial, however, that proper controls and community input is gained before such operations are initiated," said Ruchel.

"This waste should be treated by the United States without causing any environmental damage or effects on the local community. The Japanese government needs to demand a guarantee from the United States that this waste is dealt with in an environmentally and socially responsible way," said Sanae Shida Greenpeace Japan, Executive Director. "Unless the two governments commit to environmentally sound treatment of this waste, the PCB ping pong game will not be resolved," added Shida.

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