He said: "I think, knowing Hartlepool very well and, without being detrimental to the area, we are quite an insular town ttees something like this can get blown up very quickly. But these are unfounded, just as the concerns about the vessels were unfounded. But on 12 Novemberthe arrival of a rusting American warship triggered a saga unequalled in the town's history.
Untilif someone was asked where Hartlepool was, the answer might well have been "the place where they hanged the monkey ". Five years of complex licensing rows, court casescouncil meetings and government announcements followed, before work could begin.
The firm had overcome objections from Hartlepool Council, but had been forced to resubmit detailed plans to satisfy the agency that the work would not have a detrimental effect on surrounding wildlife. We could have had the entire fleet over here if we hadn't acted. This isn't waste that we've produced, it is coming in stcokton all over the world.
But by then, only four ships had actually made it across the Atlantic and apart from a separate deal to scrap a French aircraft carrierany chance of more work from America had disappeared. Four months earlier, businessman Peter Stephenson won a contract to scrap ageing ex-US naval vessels - dubbed "ghost ships" - at his Able UK yard.
In Junethe Environment Agency finally issued Able UK with the waste management licence it needed to start dismantling the vessels. It says it is still concerned about the company's Seaton Meadows landfill site, which contains some of the material from the recycled ships. We're still getting international waste dumped on this town. Mr Stephenson has stressed that the materials in the landfill site, including asbestos, heavy industrial and chemical waste and recycled oil and gas rigs, are safe.
The rest was successfully recycled.
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That sparked a bitter environmental and legal fight, stocktton has continued to this day. About sharing Ten years ago, a trans-Atlantic row broke out over the fate of 13 rusting US warships destined to be broken up in Hartlepool. When we realised what was in the ships we knew it would be detrimental to this little town.
Environmentalists claimed their toxic contents would endanger health but how has the town actually been stocktkn All the regulatory authorities had gone through the proper processes when we got our original planning permissions. Hartlepool-born Mr Stephenson said the contract was for an initial 13 vessels, but he ultimately hoped to dismantle ships at the yard.
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We were deated as the dumping ground of the world. He said: "It has been proven that the concerns about the environmental impact of the American ships were not valid. The vessels, which had lain in the James River in Virginia for decades, contained hundreds of tonnes of hazardous substances, including asbestos, heavy diesel, mercury, lead-based paints and polychlorinated biphenyls PCBs.