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Ghost ships not clear yet

Plagued efforts to bring 13 US ships to the UK for recycling have been dealt yet another blow, with action groups challenging a judge's decision to allow the journey.

Able UK this month claimed success in its bid to import the last nine vessels when a US court threw out a case trying to ban the trip.

But now Basel Action Network has lodged an official Motion for Amendment of Judgement, claiming the Columbia judge dismissed the case inappropriately.

Lawyer Martin Wagner insisted the decision could not be based on statements in court unless these proved the law would not be broken.

He added: "The US Maritime Administration's (MARAD) statements do not demonstrate an intent to comply with the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). An amendment of the Court's judgement is therefore appropriate."

The RCRA makes it illegal to export hazardous waste unless the receiving facility is fully licensed.

Able UK still needs to secure planning permission and a waste-management licence to recycle the former US Navy ships in Hartlepool. Two British court decisions in December 2003 left the firm without the relevant documentation.

But none of these setbacks have deterred either party. Last week Able announced it was working with MARAD to choose the nine ships that would complete its controversial "Ghost Ships" contract.

Four vessels docked at the facility in late 2003 but no others were allowed to leave while the court case was heard in the US.

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