The U.S. Maritime Administration has adopted new rules that, for now, effectively end a high-profile program for getting rid of old ships by making them into artificial reefs.
The federal agency once trumpeted its reefing program as an environmentally responsible alternative for disposing of junk behemoths by stripping them down and sinking them offshore, where they often became popular destinations for fishermen and divers.
Several unwanted ships owned by the agency - including two from the James River Reserve Fleet, better known as the "ghost fleet" - were converted into metallic reefs after being prepared and purged of toxic innards at local shipyards.
But the Maritime Administration recently changed two standards that, taken together, removed all remaining junk ships as possible reef candidates.
"The Obama administration got this one right," said Colby Self, an activist with the Basel Action Network, a Seattle-based group that has lobbied against reefing for years. "They should be commended for putting in place a more conservative policy that protects our resources, our jobs, as well as the marine environment."http://hamptonroads.com/2012/09/rules-halt-federal-program-using-ghost-fleet-ships-reefs