Toxic ship beaching disallowed

Union ministry conveys the decision to Gujarat Maritime Board


The Union Environment Ministry conveyed the decision to the Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) on Monday. The yard comes under the GMB. The decision was taken keeping the precautionary principle in mind.

The toxic ship arrived at Alang last month. When green activists questioned the permissions accorded by the GMB and the Gujarat Pollution Control Board, a central team was sent for assessment. It confirmed the presence of toxic materials. 

Illegal export
Last year, the ship’s former owners were charged by the US government with illegal export of a toxic chemical called poly-chlorinated biphenyl (PCBs) for disposal and use in commerce under the Toxic Substances Control Act. To avoid a court case, the vessel’s former owners paid over one half million dollars as a settlement. After EPA pressed charges, the owners denied that the ship was going to be sent for breaking on the beaches of South Asia. Instead they claimed it was to be reused as a ship by its new owners.

The activists claimed that its past and present owners were hand in glove to bypass the US administration so that the ship could be brought to India for breaking down. According to the documents submitted by the ship’s present owners to the GMB, the vessel is currently registered in the island nation of Kiribati. But Kiribati officials informed the ministry that the documents submitted by the ship owner are fake.

An environment ministry official said the GMB might investigate the allegations that the ship was brought to India with a falsified flag and registry.
The central team discovered 238 tonnes of asbestos material in the ship’s structure. There are minute quantities of radioactive material as well.

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