On September 5, 1986, it left Philadelphia, carrying 14,855 tons of tons of ash. The city, desperately short of landfill space, had earlier tried to get rid of the garbage by paying neighboring states to take it.
The barge headed for a island in the Bahamas owned by the Amalgamated Shipping Company, which had agreed to take the garbage.
On way to the islands, however, the Bahamian government got wind of the deal and refused to give the barge permission to dock.
The barge tried to unload the ash in Bermuda, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, and the Netherlands Antilles. But everyone was suspicious of the garbage, figuring it had to be highly toxic.
In 1987 the Khian Sea managed to dump 4,000 tons of it on a beach in Haiti, telling the government it was “fertilizer.”