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December 2, 2003 1:07 PM

Norman Baker MP, Liberal Democrat Shadow Environment Secretary, will tomorrow (Tuesday 2nd December) visit Hartlepool to see the 'ghost fleet' of toxic ships from America that are waiting to be dismantled by Teesside company Able UK.

Mr Baker will meet with the Environment Agency, local activists and Councillors to highlight the devastating impact that the ships, carrying heavy oil and asbestos, could have on the Teesside coast. He also hopes to question Able UK on the legal position of the ships and assess the current levels of pollution.

Mr Baker will say:

"Britain should not be a dump for American rubbish. It should be an accepted principle that developed countries deal with their own waste.

"The Government has missed several opportunities to stop these toxic ships entering British waters. The Department for Transport could have sent them back, but chose to do nothing.

"Winter is rapidly approaching and the danger of stormy waters breaking up the ships is rapidly increasing.

"From the beginning, the story of the ghost fleet has been a complete farce. It's now becoming a planning fiasco.

"The Government hopes that by leaving the ships over the winter, the public will forget about them. The Liberal Democrats will not let that happen."