Aug. 21, 2004, 6:11PM
Toxins on aircraft carrier delay its future as a reef
High PCB levels found after deck was stripped from the USS Oriskany
By BILL KACZOR
SINKING THE ORISKANY
• Storied past: The USS Oriskany, which saw combat in Korea and Vietnam, is being prepared in Corpus Christi for eventual sinking in the Gulf of Mexico.
• Record-making future: The carrier would be the largest ship ever sunk to create an artificial reef.
PENSACOLA, FLA. - The USS Oriskany's wooden flight deck is being removed because of PCB contamination, but other issues involving the toxic material must yet be resolved before the retired aircraft carrier can be sunk as an artificial reef, a Navy spokeswoman said Tuesday.
The Navy, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and state officials met last week in Atlanta to begin that process.
The 888-foot ship would be the largest vessel ever purposely sunk as a reef.
Questions raised by EPA officials have indefinitely delayed plans to sink the carrier in the Gulf of Mexico about 25 miles off Pensacola Pass, said Pat Dolan of the Naval Sea Systems Command.
"We're committed to working with them," Dolan said.
The Oriskany, a combat veteran of the Korean and Vietnam wars, had been scheduled to arrive in Pensacola by Aug. 10 to begin final preparations for sinking, but it remains in Corpus Christi, where potential environmental hazards are being removed.
The flight deck was added to that list when a tar-like coating was stripped off and tests disclosed a higher level of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, than expected underneath, Dolan said.
The substance has been linked to cancer and other illnesses.
The EPA has been asked for a risk-based disposal permit that would let the Navy sink the ship without removing all solid PCBs.
A Navy study indicates solid PCBs aboard the USS Vermillion, a Navy cargo ship sunk as a reef off South Carolina in 1988, have caused no harm to people or sea life, but the EPA has questioned those findings.The Navy is developing a response, Dolan said.
Retired Vice Adm. Jack Fetterman, an Oriskany reef booster in Pensacola, said he is confident the issue can be resolved in a matter of weeks. Even so, the sinking may have to be delayed until November or later because of the threat of hurricanes, said Fetterman, president and CEO of the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation.
The Navy selected Pensacola over sites proposed by Texas, Mississippi, Georgia and South Carolina in part because Pensacola Naval Air Station has had a key role in naval flight history.
"The substance has been linked to cancer and other illnesses."
So has every other chemical in the world, natural or man-made. In massive quantities ANYTHING is hazardous to health. I am so SICK (get it, the irony, ha ha) of the EPA and how they take any finding that could POSSIBLY link a chemical to any sort of illness from sneezing up and try to make it into an "issue".
Beef Fat has been linked to cancer and other illnesses, but if you dump a billion pounds into the ocean, it is just going to stink. It sure as hell won't hurt humans and it might make for some HUGE shrimp.
I don't want fuzzy links and "possible" connections , I want cold hard scientific facts from groups that are not biased to anti-progress and anti-chemical groups.
Are they going to videotape it? I wanna see that!
This whole Oriskany thing is turning into a big mess just as I suspected it would.
Most people in Pensacola don't want the thing and didn't want their tax dollars pissed away on a reef that only a small percentage of people will even get to see. The local govt didn't listen to it's people once again.........surprise!
Escambia County has the best politicians and judges that money can buy.
I work in the environmental industry and if anyone thinks that stuff isn't a big deal....you're wrong.
I wouldn't want that offshore either. If they want it stripped I'll give them a good price!
I know a few retired Navy guys who served on the Big O, they would of rather seen it scrapped or saved as a museum.
You think FloriDUH would have learned from the Spiegel Grove fiasco.
Still, I'd move there in a second.
Pensacola's image is very deceptive. I strongly recommend that you compare the crime rate and cost of living in your town to that of Pensacola.
This site is excellent for doing this. Compare cities
Compare by them using zip codes.
The essential P'cola ones are 32501, 32505, 32514, 32535.
I'll give you a hint of what you'll find.
The crime risk factors are rated on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the worst. The national average for both Property Crimes and Violent Crimes is 3.
Some zip codes for P'cola are rated as an 8! Nothing is P'cola is less than a 6.
I've done crime comparison of various cities and P'cola is listed as being as bad or worse than Liberty City and Compton.
Please don't take my word for it, check it out for yourself.
Even the fish that'll be swimming around the Oriskany have criminal records. Ahhh....maybe the PCB's will kill them off.
Damn, More expensive then where I live.
I think the USN should sell the hulk for scrape metal. Personally for me, hulks of ships are not part of the enviroment, and the govt is just trying to save money, they should not sink it for an artificial reef.