Ghost ships face exorcism

A graveyard fleet of warships floating for decades in the Suisun Bay near Benicia has prompted a lawsuit by several environmental agencies concerned about toxic pollution in the waters near San Francisco.

The National Resources Defense Council, San Francisco Baykeeper and Arc Ecology filed suit in federal court in Sacramento last week in an attempt to force a cleanup of the decaying ships. According to the groups, the goal is to force the U.S. Maritime Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Transportation, to properly dispose of the ships that are a significant source of pollution, such as barium, cadmium, lead and other toxins.

Most of the ships in the mothballed fleet were vessels used or built for World War II and the Korean War. They have been resting in the bay since their decommissioning and are no longer seaworthy.