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#3431: Gonaives Ash Off Florida AP050200 from Slavin (fwd)

From: Patrick Slavin <pslavin@unicefusa.org>

Keywords: toxic waste, Gonaives, Philadelphia

                         Ashes From '86 Now Off Florida

.c The Associated Press


FORT PIERCE, Fla. (AP) - Some 14 years after the original shipment of

incinerator ash left Philadelphia, then was rejected by port after port,

2,000 tons of the waste has ended up in barges along the Florida coast.

Laboratory tests showed the ash is not hazardous waste, Kris McFadden of the

Florida Department of Environmental Protection said today.

However, there was still no definite word where the ash would end up.

Florida counties are refusing to transport the ash to their landfills.

The story began in 1985 when Philadelphia was searching for a place to put

ash from an incinerator in the Roxborough neighborhood. More than 14,000 tons

were loaded onto a bulk-cargo ship, the Khian Sea, which in late 1986 began

its ill-fated voyage.

For more than two years, the ship sailed the Caribbean searching for a dump

site. Crew members reported being turned away from ports at gunpoint and

being threatened with attack by environmentalists, who maintained the ash

contained toxic heavy metals.

The Bahamas, Bermuda, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Guinea-Bissau and the

Netherlands Antilles all refused the ash.

In December 1987, the ship's crew unloaded nearly 4,000 tons of the ash near

Haiti's port of Gonaives. The ship's captain later testified that he was

ordered to dump the remaining 10,000 tons into the Atlantic and Indian


In 1998, the 4,000 tons of ash in Haiti was ordered removed. There was no

immediate explanation where it has been since then or what happened to the

remaining 2,000 tons.

On Monday, five barges loaded with the waste sat in Florida's Intracoastal

Waterway - two at Fort Pierce and three at Stuart.

McFadden said today the material was being transferred from the open barges

to a ship with covered cargo compartments.

Waste Management Inc. is attempting find a home for the incinerator waste

somewhere in the Southeast, said company spokesman Bill Plunkett in Houston.

The ash likely won't be dumped in Florida, he said. A disposal facility in

Carlyss, La. is a possibility.

``From our perspective, it's material that can be handled fairly easily,''

Plunkett said. ``It's been tested and determined to be non-hazardous, but we

want to handle it in a way that is safe for the environment and that's what

we intend to do.''

Copyright 2000 The Associated Press.