Former Demolition Crew Leader Convicted of Dumping Asbestos

March 27, 2003

Ronald Cook of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada was convicted by a jury for violating the Ocean Dumping Act and the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships. The conviction came from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Cook led a demolition crew charged with removing asbestos-containing material (ACM) from the Muskegon Clipper. The ship was being converted into a gambling casino and was being transported from San Diego to Mobile, Alabama, through the Panama Canal.

Witnesses reported the demolition crew, under Cook's instructions, dumped hundreds of trash bags filled with ACM into the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and the Carribean Sea.

Dumping waste materials into the ocean has the potential to harm aquatic life, especially life forms that live on the bottom of the sea.

The case was investigated by the Los Angeles Area Office of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division, the FBI and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who aided in Cook's extradition from Canada.

It is being prosecuted by the Environmental Crimes Section of the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Washington, D.C.

Source: EPA