|LONDON - Opponents of a plan to break up a fleet of decommissioned U.S. Navy ships at a port in northeast England go to court this week in the latest challenge to the scheme.|
Three residents of Hartlepool, where the so-called \"ghost ships\" are due to be broken up, will argue at London\'s High Court that the shipbreaking would contravene local planning rules.
Environmentalists say the ships are contaminated with asbestos and possibly contain traces of other chemicals.
Four of the ships have been docked in Hartlepool for over a month after sailing across the Atlantic from docks in Virginia on the east coast of the United States, where they had stood for years.
Last week a High Court judge ruled in a separate challenge that a government decision to allow the four ships to be broken up \"cannot stand.\"
The four ships are part of a fleet of 13, with the other nine still in the United States awaiting permission to sail.
Environmentalist group Friends of the Earth says the United States plans to send up to 150 old ships to Britain to be dismantled.
Able UK, the demolition firm chosen to break up the ships, says the ships pose no threat to the environment. It says its contract would create 200 jobs.
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE