HC Deb 16 September 2004 vol 424 cc1675-6WS
Mr. Carmichael

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on(a) the four ghost ships moored in Hartlepool and(b) proposals for a further nine former US navy ships to be dismantled in Hartlepool. [188433]

Mr. Morley

The four US ships are currently docked in Able UK's Graythorp dock on Teesside. The necessary permissions are being sought by Able UK for dismantling to take place at this location. The process of granting the permissions is not a forgone conclusion. Relevant applications will be considered and the outcome will depend upon the relevant regulators.

In the meantime, dismantling work is prevented and the dock facility is subject to regular inspection by the Environment Agency in liaison with the Health and Safety Executive. The results of environ mental monitoring indicate that storage of the four US naval ships at the Graythorp dock has not had a detrimental impact or posed a significant threat to the environment or human health.

There are no plans for any further US naval vessels to be towed to the UK at present. The nine ships that are currently in the US are not permitted to be moved to the UK and the US authorities have given a written undertaking that no more ships will be sent unless and until the necessary permissions are in place at the Teesside facility.