Breaking ships without hurting the environment The...

April 22, 2003

Breaking ships without hurting the environment

The Sun's editorial "Shipbreakers, revisited" (April 13) depicted the Maritime Administration (MARAD) as attempting to circumvent environmental regulations. The facts do not support that view.

MARAD has included the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in its investigation of the best possible disposal options to satisfy our congressional mandate to dispose of all ships by 2006. And MARAD is not focusing on Asian shipbreaking facilities, as the editorial claimed.

MARAD and EPA representatives have visited ship dismantlement facilities in Europe and in Mexico, all of which have expressed interest in finding the best disposal solutions. And, as required by Congress, MARAD is working with EPA and the State Department to conduct more pilot programs in fiscal year 2003 to explore the feasibility of exporting obsolete vessels for dismantlement and recycling.

MARAD and the EPA will maintain on-site personnel during the pilot projects to monitor the dismantlement and remediation processes. We believe our plans will work to encourage safer practices worldwide.

The editorial said "MARAD went into a sulk and practically refused to consider alternatives." The fact is that, even when there was no appropriation for ship disposal, this agency was investigating alternatives, including alternative dismantlement facilities, vessel donations, deep water sinking and the use of vessels for artificial reefs.

And MARAD and the EPA will not do business with companies that are unwilling to provide protections for their workers or who ignore environmental protections.

Capt. William G. Schubert

Washington

The writer is maritime administrator for the Department of Transportation.

Charter school bill is chance for reform

While I concur with Mike Bowler's view regarding the "tight grip" teacher unions and school boards have on some Maryland legislators, his news brief regarding recently passed charter school legislation ("A lesson for Ehrlich on teacher unions, boards," April 16) contained an inaccuracy that should be corrected.

Mr. Bowler stated that the legislation deleted provisions that exempt charter schools from "onerous state and local regulations." In fact, the legislation does authorize a waiver from these regulations.

Mr. Bowler views the legislation awaiting the governor's signature as "extremely weak."

However, while multiple chartering authorities would enable Maryland to be more competitive for federal funding for charter schools' start-up costs, the governor's ability to appoint a majority of the members of the state Board of Education within 18 months provides a pragmatic avenue for reform, as hostile local boards will likely see their rejection of charter school applications reversed on appeal.

John R. Leopold

Annapolis

The writer represents District 31 in the Maryland House of Delegates.

Color-coded alerts just a political sham

If anyone had any doubt that the color-coded terror alert nonsense was nothing but a political sham designed to frighten people, drum up patriotism and build support for President Bush's re-election machine, those doubts have now been laid to rest ("Terror alert lowered from orange `high' back to yellow," April 17).

Of course the Bush administration would declare the "threat" to be downgraded -- it's all part of its spin campaign to convince the public that Mr. Bush is a war hero.

But common sense should tell you that the harder we push around the Arab people, the harder they are going to push back.

If anything, the terror threat increases every time we do anything that kills Arab women and children, whether we think it's justified or not.

Dropping bombs on Arab homes leads to suicide bombs in malls and restaurants. Anyone with doubts about that need only look at Israel. Is that how secure we want to be?

William Smith

Baltimore

Religious intolerance in Pentagon sermon

I am saddened that the Pentagon invited a religious bigot to speak on Good Friday -- although any other day would have been just as bad ("Graham's appearance at Pentagon draws fire," April 20).

The Rev. Franklin Graham has denounced Islam as an evil and wicked religion. Can you imagine the uproar that would have ensued had he leveled the same charge against any other religious group -- Catholics, Baptists, Jews, etc.?

Dorian Borsella

Baltimore

Library and its staff provide fine service

If the writer of the letter "Librarian should get own house in order" (April 11) "avoids the main library like a plague," he is cutting off his nose to spite his face.

And while I, too, deplore the closing of branch libraries I cannot let the description of the staff as being "often surly and uninformed" go by without protest. In the four departments that I frequent most often, Music, Fiction, Humanities and Recordings and the Central Information Desk, I have had outstanding help from the librarians. I wish I knew all their names so I could mention them.

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