Tell EPA to Protect Our Seas from the Navy’s Ocean Dumping Program
  • Petitioning Mr. Michael Boots

This petition will be delivered to:

The White House Council on Environmental Quality
Mr. Michael Boots
Mr. David Redford

Tell EPA to Protect Our Seas from the Navy’s Ocean Dumping Program

    1. Petition by


Join our call. Tell the U.S. EPA to bring the Navy’s ship ocean dumping program in-line with current laws, laws that all citizens of the United States must abide by. Your support will make the difference! 

A report by the Basel Action Network, Dishonorable Disposal: The Case Against Dumping U.S. Naval Vessels at Sea, and subsequent investigation by The Associated Press, uncovered the wasteful legacy of the U.S. Navy's ship sinking program. This comprehensive analysis of ship ocean disposal by way of target practice exercise cites toxicological data demonstrating polluted waterways, and an economic analysis revealing lost recycling jobs, wasted taxpayer dollars and squandered resources at the center of the government's ship disposal program.

The Pentagon quietly pulled back plans to sink the USS Forrestal and three other aircraft carriers in 2011, deciding instead to recycle these vessels domestically. However, the Navy ignored the rationale that led them to that decision and sunk four ships in 2012, and is moving ahead with plans to sink two more ships by sinking exercise (SINKEX) in the pristine waters of the Hawaiian islands in July 2014. 

The EPA and Navy admit that toxic chemicals are deposited into the marine environment as a result of ship sinking operations, including asbestos, lead paint, antifouling paint containing tributyltin (TBT), polybrominated diphenyl esters (PBDEs) and notably polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), a suspected carcinogen that has been targeted for global phase-out and destruction under the Stockholm Convention. However, the EPA and the Navy have not yet assessed the impacts of this toxic dumping to any degree of certainty, nor do they have plans to assess the ramifications of such dumping. Yet the sinking program continues unobstructed.

In 1998-99, EPA revised the general SINKEX permit to allow the Navy to continue the SINKEX program with exemptions to the U.S. Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), essentially giving the Navy a pass to leave intact solid PCB contaminated materials on SINKEX vessels for deep sinking. Following this exemption, the Navy quickly escalated the program. From 1970-1999 SINKEX accounted for approximately 8% of all vessel disposals, but from 2000-2010 (following the TSCA exemption), sinkings accounted for approximately 65% of all disposals, with over 100 ships being dumped in that decade alone. These ships contained an estimated 600,000 tons of recyclable steel, copper and aluminum, worth an estimated half a billion dollars in scrap had the vessels been recycled.

The Navy has taken great advantage of the exemptions EPA granted them and escalated the ocean dumping program, presumably to save on costs related to PCB compliance under TSCA, which is applicable to all other ship disposal methods. But EPA has done nothing to restrict the program or improve the remediation requirements by limiting exemptions that were granted over 13 years ago. In fact, in January 2014, the EPA explicitly stated that the Navy can sink up to 100 lbs. of pure molecular PCBs with each SINKEX target vessel.

Join our call. Tell the U.S. EPA to bring the Navy’s ocean dumping program in-line with current laws, laws that all citizens of the United States must abide by. 

Thank you for your support.

Basel Action Network

Recent signatures


    1. Pristine Waters Fall Victim to Navy Ocean Dumping Exercise

      The U.S. Navy’s ‘Great Green Fleet,’ joined by twenty-one other nations, fired-on and sank a retired U.S. naval warship late last week off the coast of Kauai during the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) war games. A second ship is scheduled to be sunk in the coming days. The EPA recently clarified that the Navy can sink up to 100 lbs. of pure molecular PCBs into the sea with each sunken vessel.

      BAN continues to advocate for the responsible recycling of these obsolete vessels. See the recent ABC News broadcast in Hawaii:!be0lF3

    2. Submit Public Comment to EPA

      The EPA is accepting public comment until May 6, 2013. Your support will make the difference, they want to hear from you! See the solicitation in the Federal Register:

      Federal Register | Petitions to Revise General Permit for U.S. Navy to Transport Vessels for the Purpose of Sinking in Ocean Waters

      This notice announces the receipt of and invites public comment on petitions submitted by the Basel Action Network, the Sierra Club, and the Center for Biological Diversity, requesting that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency take immediate action under the Marine Protection, Research and...

    3. Reached 1,000 signatures
    4. Progress! U.S. Navy Will Recycle Four Retired Aircraft Carriers

      Amazing news. The U.S. Navy has reversed course on an important issue that will prevent tons of toxic pollution at sea.
      For years, it was thought acceptable and even beneficial for the environment for the Navy to dump old ships at sea after they are...

    5. Reached 250 signatures
    6. Will the U.S. Navy Dump Or Recycle John McCain's Old Ship?

      The Navy aircraft carrier on which Senator John McCain served during his youth is now nearing retirement. Next year, the USS Forrestal is due to be dumped into the deep water somewhere off the East Coast.
      No, the Navy doesn't have it in for John...


    Reasons for signing

    • Mandy Knudtson OLYMPIA, WA
      • 3 months ago

      I care about keeping toxic substances out of the ocean and food supply. AND I care about reusing the finite resources that are contained in the old ships. The resources must be recycled!

      • 3 months ago

      We've contaminated the land enough already. There can be no justification for contaminating the sea. It's actually time to start cleaning up our act and recycling or safely disposing all of the contaminants we've created so that future generations can inherit a safe and healthy earth abundant with biodiversity.

    • Theresa Rasmusen SEATTLE, WA
      • 3 months ago

      Because the food we eat comes out of the ocean and the ships are toxic. When we finally find out the links between this and disease, birth defects, will be too late! The are worth an entire year of wages for our ship recyclers here in the United States, the government should not be allow to take the cheap way out. You have technology and don't need shooting practice! Stop!

    • David Sell KAILUA, HI
      • 4 months ago

      Protect our sea life and coral reefs. This could cause a lot of issues with all the above

    • melanie rodriguez SIMI VALLEY, CA
      • 7 months ago

      toxic chemicals are being dumped into our already fragile marine life!


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