By Meaghan MacDougall
The USS Yorktown, located in the Charleston Port in South Carolina, is an aircraft carrier that served during World War II and the Vietnam War. Although the ship is now designated as a National Historic Landmark, it’s corroding on its outer hull and putting the Charleston Port at risk of being polluted with hazardous materials that could affect many parts of the area.

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Protecting the Charleston Port From USS Yorktown Toxins

In early July, Governor McMaster announced that an executive order was signed with the goal of removing all hazardous waste that is a part of the USS Yorktown. When Yorktown was donated to Patriots Point, there were over 100,000 gallons of fuel that were left with it. With many other ports suffering from water contamination, the governor is taking precautions to ensure that the Charleston Port will remain clean while keeping this National Historic Landmark as a part of the community. [embed]https://twitter.com/Patriots_Point/status/1546837443911065600[/embed] The order states that if the ship is left alone and the outer hull of the ship continues to corrode, the inner tanks of the USS Yorktown could possibly release toxins that will lead to water contamination of the Charleston Port. The executive order is the only current solution to the problem, as it will allow the Office of Resiliency to manage the removal. McMaster is a supporter of environmental protection and is doing all that he can to protect the harbor at all costs. The Charleston Port is the ninth busiest port in the United States, so protecting it and keeping the waters clean is important.

About the USS Yorktown

The USS Yorktown Charleston-based ship served as the tenth aircraft carrier in the United States Navy. It now resides in Charleston Harbor at the Patriots Point Development Authority. Located near JB Charleston, the USS Yorktown is the centerpiece of Patriots Point and is the home to the Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum. The USS Yorktown was built during World War II to serve as the United States Navy’s Aircraft carrier. The ship was renamed after the original Yorktown that was sunk during the Battle of Midway. She participated in the Pacific Offense, which began in 1943 and ended in 1945 with the defeat of Japan. For its service during World War II, the USS Yorktown was awarded the Presidential Union Citation and eleven battle stars. Yorktown was later modernized in 1950 to hold jet aircraft as an attack carrier. Yorktown was remodeled again in 1957 and re-designated as an anti-submarine aircraft carrier. After serving in the Vietnam War, Yorktown had earned five battle stars. Yorktown also recovered the Apollo 8 astronauts and capsule and finally was decommissioned in 1970, when it was placed in reserve. The ship is an important piece of history at the museum, and it is a special part of the community. In early July, at the Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum, McMaster stated that it has to be ensured that the USS Yorktown will continue to flourish and remain a special place.

What Substances Were Found?

According to Robert Boyls Jr., director of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, the two leaking substances that were found were polychlorinated biphenyls and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Since these substances aren’t water-soluble, if they aren’t removed from the ship, they could accumulate in the sediment and sit at the bottom of the Charleston Port for years. If the substances end up accumulating at the bottom of the harbor, the toxic water will harm the ecosystem and impair commercial shipping. If these substances are to create water toxicity, there are businesses that could also be affected. The executive order is the right solution to protect the ecosystem, commercial shipping, the state’s coastline, and the seafood and tourism industry. The executive order seems to be the best solution to keeping the USS Yorktown to remain in the Charleston Port, all while protecting the harbor from being contaminated.

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