270 tons of toxins
on layover at Pearl
The cancer-causing PCBs are
on their way to a California port
A fire on a U.S. freighter carrying 270 tons of cancer-causing hazardous waste has forced the materials to make an unscheduled 30-day layover at Pearl Harbor while waiting for transportation to the mainland.
The cargo of excess electrical equipment containing PCBs arrived at Ford Island on Friday aboard the Navy cargo ship USNS Watson. The equipment is expected to be housed in a Ford Island hangar for about a month before being transferred to Port Huenene north of Los Angeles.
The cargo of PCBs was shipped in 59 20-foot shipping containers and is packaged to prevent any type of leakage, said Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Davis, a Navy spokesman. Drip pans are being use as added safety precautions, he said.
PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) are an oily mixture of chlorinated compounds that have been found to cause cancer in animals. They were extensively used until 1977 as a lubricant in high-heat machinery and as insulating material in transformers and other electrical equipment.
Davis said the toxic waste materials were collected from military bases on Okinawa and elsewhere in Japan and were supposed to go directly to the mainland on a commercial freighter, the Green Cove, for disposal.
On April 11, about 200 miles off Chiba Prefecture, a fire broke out in the Green Cove's engine room and the freighter had to be towed back to Japan.
But the Defense Logistics Agency faced an April 18 Environmental Protection Agency deadline to get the hazardous waste to a U.S. port, Davis said.
The cargo was transferred to 62,970-ton Watson, a Navy cargo vessel normally stationed in Diego Garcia. The Watson arrived at Pearl Harbor on Friday.