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Navy to cease scraping ship hulls in Puget Sound after AG lawsuit

The USS Pennsylvania en route to Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor. It is one of eight ballistic-missile submarines stationed at the base. (U.S. Navy, Flickr)

Under pressure, the U.S. Navy has agreed to stop scraping ship hulls in Puget Sound and letting the paint contaminate the water. Washington state sued, saying the old paint releases metals and other contaminants into Sinclair Inlet near Bremerton.

“The Navy’s reckless actions endangered Washington’s diverse marine life, including salmon and orcas,” Ferguson said in a statement. “Everyone has a duty to protect our waters, including the federal government. Today’s order holds the Navy accountable and ensures it will stop its harmful ship scraping practices.”

The lawsuit was brought by the Suquamish Tribe, Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, the Washington Environmental Council, and the Attorney General’s Office. It contends that the Navy violated the federal Clean Water Act and the state Water Pollution Control Act by releasing toxic substances into Puget Sound without a permit.

Another Puget Sound orca presumed to be dead

Additionally, the Navy must also work to reverse the environmental damage caused by decades of paint buildup near the docks. Water samples taken by the Navy itself found that the level of pollutants released often far exceeded standards set by the state.

The new agreement is good for ten years.

“The ancestral waters and the marine habitat of Sinclair Inlet are vital natural and cultural resources that have supported the Suquamish people since time immemorial,” said Leonard Forsman, Chairman of the Suquamish Tribe. “This settlement will help protect these marine resources for future generations. By avoiding protracted litigation, this agreement is also a step toward repairing the Tribe’s and Navy’s government-to-government relationship, while the Tribe continues to protect treaty-reserved waters.”

KIRO Radio contributed to this report.

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