The “Flying Dutchmen”: Ships’ Tales of Toxic Waste in a Globalized World


As a space where terrestrial jurisdiction did not apply, the ocean has often seemed to present a convenient solution to messy problems that nobody wanted: unwanted things—whether people or objects—could simply be loaded onto a ship and sent away. Using the image of the legendary ghost ship, the Flying Dutchman, this article traces the journeys of several ships and their cargos of toxic waste in the 1970s and 1980s.