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Former Demolition Crew Leader Sentenced for Dumping Asbestos into the Sea

Release Date: 09/05/2003
Contact Information:

Teresa Libera 202-564-7873 /

(09/05/03) On Aug. 26, Ronald Cook of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, was sentenced to 24 months in prison followed by 36 months of supervised release by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Cook was convicted of violating the Ocean Dumping Act and the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships. Cook lead a demolition crew that was removing asbestos-containing material (ACM) from the Muskegon Clipper. The ship was being converted into a gambling casino as it was being transported from San Diego, Calif., to Mobile, Ala., through the Panama Canal. Witnesses reported that the demolition crew dumped hundreds of trash bags filled with ACM into the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and the Carribean Sea at the direction of the defendant. 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 and it was prosecuted by the Environmental Crimes Section of the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, D.C.