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Groups, tribe say they’ll sue Navy over ship hull cleaning

The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson departs from Bremerton, Wash., Jan. 13, 2003. (JOHN FROSCHAUER / AP)
The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson departs from Bremerton, Wash., Jan. 13, 2003. (JOHN FROSCHAUER / AP)

BREMERTON – The Suquamish Tribe and two environmental groups have filed notice they intend to sue the Navy, alleging the Navy is cleaning a decommissioned aircraft carrier in Sinclair Inlet in violation of federal clean-water laws.

The tribe, Washington Environmental Council and Puget Soundkeeper allege that divers are scraping the hull of the USS Independence outside Bremerton and sending harmful copper-based paint into the water. They say the Navy should have obtained permits under the Clean Water Act.

Navy spokeswoman Colleen O’Rourke said in a statement that skilled divers are gently scrubbing marine growth on the hull of the ship to prevent the possible transfer of invasive species. The ship is being cleaned before it is towed to Texas, where it will be dismantled. She declined to comment on the pending lawsuit.

The Kitsap Sun reports that state and federal regulators have also expressed concerns that the Navy’s actions might harm the fragile waterway.


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