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Friday, December 13, 2013

I'd Like More Information about the Pelicano

"My pastor told us the story about the garbage ship, the Pelicano.  It was filled with toxic ash from Philadelphia and then no port will let it dock.  I would really like to know more about it."  The Newton Falls Public Library staff found this to be an interesting inquiry and told our patron we would see what we could find for them.

An online search brought us to the November 28, 1988 New York Times article "After 2 Years, Ship Dumps Toxic Ash."  According to the article it's cargo holds were filled with " 28 million pounds of Philadelphia's municipal and industrial incinerator ash."  "The ship left Philadelphia in September 1986 as the Khian Sea. It was renamed the Felicia in July and the Pelicano earlier this month, according to published reports and shipping officials. . . After the ship was barred by the Bahamian Government from dumping the ash, it wandered the Caribbean for 18 months, leaving at least 2,000 tons of ash in Haiti before making an attempt to enter Delaware Bay. Its later travels took it to West Africa, the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean. It was turned away from ports in at least 11 countries, including the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Costa Rica, Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde. . . Earlier this month. . .a court document showed that the ash had been dumped." 

The New York Times article is not the complete story.  In the March 18, 2001 Los Angeles Times article by Mike Clary titled "Wanted: Final Resting Place for Huge Trash Pile - Environment: 3,000 tons of waste from a 14,000-ton haul is all that remains of years of global travels and no takers. Its barge now sits in a Florida canal."  Fifteen years after this odyssey began "the last of 14,000 tons of incinerated garbage from Philadelphia has yet to find a permanent home." According to this article, 4,000 tons was dumped in Haiti when the officials were led to believe it was fertilizer. "Over the next two years, it sailed through the Suez Canal, changed its name again and was finally spotted in Singapore as the Pelicano--without the remaining 10,000 tons of trash. . .In court in 1992, the boat's captain admitted dumping the ash in the Indian Ocean." After about a 1,000 tons had blown away from Haitian land, the U.S. Department of Agriculture arranged to have Waste Management remove the remaining 3,000 and it was loaded on another ship which sits off the coast of Florida. At the writing of this 2001 article, Waste Management had neither found a dump site nor had been paid for the removal.

We finally discovered what happened to the remaining ash at the website  On June 15, 2002, Inquirer Staff Writer Tom Avril posted "Traveling trash Years later, long-fought ash returning."  The final resting place for the last 3,000 tons of ash is The Mountain View landfill in Franklin County, Pennsylvania.

More information about toxic ships can be found in the Greenpeace report,

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