Dry dock for ghost ships

PREPARATION work to scrap four so-called ghost ships on the outskirts of Hartlepool has started after a recycling firm won permission to dismantle the rotting vessels.

Able UK has been busy getting ready to break up the controversial ghost ships berthed at its Graythorp site, near Seaton Carew, since the Environment Agency granted it a waste management licence at the end of June.

It marked the end of a bitter five-year battle by the company to secure the permission needed and is set to create around 1,000 jobs over the next two years.

Bosses say they are complying with the final terms of the licence, and creating a new dry dock for the ships.

The dismantling of the four rotting vessels is due to begin in December.

Peter Stephenson, chairman of Able UK, said: "We are getting prepared for the remedial works.

"We have got the licence now and are going through the final throes of complying with the conditions that were attached.

"We are expecting the demolition work to start at Christmas."

Able UK has ploughed more than 30m of investment into its Teesside Reclamation and Recycling Centre (TERRC) site, including the new 936ft long water quay and cofferdam.

Mr Stephenson added: "We have started constructing the cofferdam which is a big structure put across the dock to keep water out and will make the dry dock operational again."

The work will also make Able ready for the arrival of a French ship, the Clemenceau, containing 700 tonnes of asbestos which the company has also won permission to import.

It is due to arrive sometime next month.

The waste management licence also gave Able the green light to treat, keep and dispose of controlled waste from sea structures such as oil rigs.

Able has also begun to handle material from the BP North West Hutton rig, which was located around 80 miles off the Shetland Islands.

In all, it is set to recycle and dispose of 23,000 tonnes from the facility.