Jan 07, 2002

Aircraft Carrier Launches Planes, Dumps Trash

Afghanistan-bound warplanes are not the only things being launched from the USS Theodore Roosevelt. Bundles of garbage — including pulped paper, ground food, and human wastes — are thrown daily into the Arabian Sea, according to Paul Garwood of the Associated Press.
The USS Theodore Roosevelt houses and feeds 5,500 sailors and generates huge amounts of rubbish — food scraps, plastics, and medical wastes.
``About 16 or 17 years ago we used to throw it all off the fan tail of the ship, but we eventually realized that it was affecting the environment and sea life,'' Chief Petty Officer Carroll Sandage explained to Garwood.
``Dealing with the ship's waste is a huge job, where we have to handle food waste, plastics and metal and try to recycle as much as possible,'' said Sandage, 34, from Madison Heights, Va., in charge of one of the ship's waste-handling sections.
Food scraps, paper and cardboard are pulped and thrown overboard in six to eight 500-pound bundles daily, Garwood reported today from aboard the ship.
Waste handlers follow strict U.S. Navy rules that prohibit the overboard disposal of plastics, metal and hazardous materials such as paint, fuel and oil. Strict mandates also are in place for the on-board handling of all hazardous waste.
The ship also releases about 410,000 gallons of human waste — including shower and toilet water — directly into the sea every day, said Cmdr. Mark Whitney, 40, the ship's chief engineer, from South Portland, Maine.
Oils, fuels and paint are sealed in 55-gallon barrels. So is metal waste, which is compressed into individual drums that, after sealing, weigh 300 pounds each. Between eight to 10 barrels of compressed waste metal are produced daily.
Once weekly, another U.S. Navy ship pulls alongside the Roosevelt to deliver supplies and remove items, including the barrels of waste, which are taken to Bahrain for handling by local public health authorities, explained Sandage.