Taylor lone dissenter on bill banning toxic ship paint

Posted: Sunday, March 05, 2000

Sen. Robin Taylor was the lone vote Friday against a bill to prevent cruise ships and other big boats bound for Alaska from using a toxic paint on their hulls.

SB 266, sponsored by Sen. Loren Leman removes an exemption in state law that lets large ships use a particularly toxic type of bottom paint. The measure passed the state Senate 17-1.

The paint, which includes Tributyltin as an ingredient, is designed to kill barnacles and other organisms by sloughing off into the water, but it is toxic to marine organisms. It has been banned for use on most smaller vessels since 1987.

``There has been in the last three years considerable research done on this supporting it (the ban),'' said Leman, an Anchorage Republican.

The bill doesn't require ships to be stripped of paint already on, but no new paint could be applied after 2001. The paint lasts about five years, Leman said.

A ban being considered by an international regulatory body could go into effect as early as 2003, though no final decision has been made on that ban yet.

Leman said those affected by the bill are in favor of the current version, including the paint manufacturer and representatives of the cruise ship industry.

Taylor, a Wrangell Republican, wasn't convinced it was a good idea.

``I still don't know who all it's going to impact,'' he said. He wondered whether a ship from Asia coming to Alaska to pick up timber would find itself in violation of the law.

``I know this is probably politically correct,'' Taylor said of the legislation. ``I just don't know how enforceable it is or who's going to be enforcing it.''

The state Department of Environmental Conservation would be charged with enforcing the ban, Leman said, and the agency would work out how to do that over the next year before the ban goes into effect.

Taylor is known for his pro-development stances and Sen. Jerry Mackie, a Craig Republican, kidded him about his vote after the Senate adjourned.

``Robin, your environmental record is intact,'' Mackie said.

Taylor gave notice that he may ask for reconsideration of the bill when the Senate next meets. After clearing the Senate, the bill will move to the House.

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