Controversial ship has fake registration documents
Last updated: 09 November, 2009
Kalyan Ray , New Delhi, Nov 8, DH News Service: 0:52 IST
Days after a Central team confirmed the presence of toxic chemicals on-board Platinum-II – a controversial ship that arrived at Alang ship-breaking yard last month – non-governmental organisations have claimed that the ship’s registration documents are fake.
According to the Central team, Platinum-II was registered in the Republic of Kiribati in September, 2009.
However, the documents submitted to Gujarat Maritime Board –– Alang comes under the GMB –– shows that its owner is Platinum Investment Services Corporation with an office address at 80, Broad Street, Monrovia, Liberia.
Kiribati, an island nation in the Pacific, now says the papers filed with the Indian authorities are fake. Liau Siew Leng, operation manager in Kiribati Ship Registry conveyed to the Basel Action Network (BAN), an NGO, that the ship’s registration certificate was false.
These documents have now been given to the Union Environment Ministry for further investigation, said Gopal Krishna from Indian Platform on Ship-breaking.
On October 20, when the Central team visited the toxic ship off Bhavnagar, they did not find any national flag on-board. A US national flag was painted on the chimney.
The ship was built in 1951 and registered in the US and as per Lloyds Register, its original name was Independence.
Environmentalists apprehend that the ship (used to be known as SS Oceanic as well) contain significant quantities of asbestos and a toxic chemical called poly chlorinated biphenyl.
The Central team discovered 238 tonnes of asbestos material in the ship’s structure but could not assess the quantity of other toxic chemicals.
The ship made headlines in 2008 when its former owners were charged by the US government with illegal export of PCBs for disposal, under the Toxics Substances Control Act.
The US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) acted after activists warned that the ship was likely to be carrying PCBs and was known to be headed for the scrapping beaches of South Asia.
To avoid a court case, the vessel’s former owners paid over one half million dollars as a settlement.
However, the owners denied that the ship was going to be sent for breaking on the beaches of South Asia as feared by the EPA and environmental groups, but instead claimed it was to be reused as a ship by its new owners.
Green activists claim that its present and former owners are hand in glove to bypass the US laws and bring the ship to India for breaking.