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U.N. green machine to fine Navy for reef grounding

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It's bad enough the U.S. Navy grounded its minesweeper, the USS Guardian, in the Philippines. It's even worse the $227 million ship will have to be dismantled in order to remove it from the reef. But now, environmentalists with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization want to fine the United States for the ship's damage to the coral reef, a listed World Heritage Site.

United Press International says the U.S. faces fines of $90 for each square foot of reef that's damaged. The area the ship struck is part of the Tubbataha Reef, spanning 98 nautical miles in the Central Sulu Sea.

The Navy struck a section of the reef on Jan. 17. The Guardian reported Wednesday that Navy officials said the only way to remove the ship — without causing further damage to the reef — would be to tear it in pieces and then cart away the sections.

Grace Barber, an administrator with the World Heritage site, said the U.S. Navy violated three park rules by striking the reef: The USS Guardian didn't get permission to enter the park, it didn't pay the park entrance fee, and it got in the way of park rangers who were trying to investigate the crash, UPI reported.

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