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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 November, 2003, 16:44 GMT
Teesside outcry over 'ghost ships'
There is much local and national opposition to the US navy ships
The first of four ageing former United States navy ships have arrived on Teesside as the row over their dismantling rages on.

Many residents have joined campaigners to voice their concern at the possible environmental impact of scrapping the ships which are thought to contain toxic chemicals.

But others within the local business community and residents say the ships will bring a welcome financial boost to the area.

The four ships on their way to the UK from the United States have been given permission to dock while the demolition firm, Able UK, contests the case in court.

It's just not fair - the Americans need to learn to deal with their own mess
Barbara Crosby, protester

Neil Marley, a member of the local environmental group, Impact, is one of a 60-strong crowd of residents enraged by the vessel's arrival.

"This decision has been taken over the heads of local people," he told BBC News Online.

"This is our home, not George Bush's toilet - we are the ones who will have to live with the toxic residue."

Friends of the Earth spokesperson Tony Juniper said there was a "real and present danger" to the environment.

But the MP for Hartlepool, Peter Mandleson, has accused campaigners of scaremongering.

"Like all ships, they contain some hazardous materials, but they are not inherently dangerous and they are not carrying any toxic cargo."

Financial benefits

But not all local people are against the deal.

Malcolm McLeary, a former shipworker, said he had "no worries" about the risk of contamination.

"Let them get on with the job and create a bit of employment in the area instead of poverty."

Pam Jose, is chairwoman at the Environmental Industries Federation, a trade body representing environmental businesses in the North East.

She told BBC News Online its members are upset at accusations the industry is not capable of carrying out the work effectively.

"It is part of our job to look after the environment and people should think about financial benefit to the local area.

"We are very proud of the work we do."

US ghost fleet
The remaining ships are currently in the James River in Virginia
But many of the people who watched the first of the ships arrive in Hartlepool were disgusted that their town should have to deal with US waste.

Protester Barbara Crosby said: "It's just not fair - the Americans need to learn to deal with their own mess."

A second vessel - part of a flotilla of 13 originally intended to be scrapped on Teesside - is due to arrive in Hartlepool on Thursday.

First 'ghost ship' arrives
12 Nov 03  |  Tees
'Ghost ships' allowed to dock
06 Nov 03  |  Tees
Inquiry into ghost ships deal
03 Nov 03  |  Tees
Q&A: Ghost ships
07 Nov 03  |  England

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