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Parliamentary Committee Takes Cognisance of Dumping of Toxic Ships, Supreme Court to hear ex US ship case on July 23

Written By Krishna on Friday, July 20, 2012 | 5:27 AM

Press Release

Parliamentary Committee Takes Cognisance of Dumping of Toxic Ships, Supreme Court to hear ex US ship case on July 23

Ex US ship Exxon Valdez violates July 6 judgment, several such US ships waiting to be dumped


New Delhi July 20, 2012: Supreme Court’s bench of Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice J. Chelameswar will hear the matter of violation of UN’s Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal and court’s May 3, 2012 order and July 6, 2012 judgment by ex US Ship Exxon Valdez (currently named MV Oriental N) on July 23, 2012. Sanjay Parikh, advocate appearing for I.A No. 62 argued that Court’s judgment of July 6, 2012 has been violated by the ship in question.

The judgment reads:“…the question of ship breaking and distribution of hazardous wastes are being considered separately in the contempt proceedings, in these proceedings we expect and eiterate that the directions contained in the BASEL Convention have to be strictly followed by all the concerned players, before a vessel is allowed to enter Indian territorial waters and beach at any of the beaching facilities in any part of the Indian coast-line. In case of breach of the conditions, the authorities shall impose the penalties contemplated under the municipal laws of India.”

Parliamentary Committee on Transport headed by Sitaram Yechury is seized with the matter of shipbreaking. It will meet on July 26, 2012. It examined the matter in its earlier sitting. Parliamentary Committee on Coal & Steel headed by Kalyan Banerjee which examines Functioning of Metal Scrap Trading in India is also scheduled to hear the ship breaking matter on August 6, 2012. Ministry of Steel which is the focal point of Inter-ministerial committee (IMC) on ship-breaking is preparing to make its submissions amidst wide spread security concerns emerging from end-of-life vessels entering Indian waters on fake flags. More than 150 hazardous dead ships have entered Indian waters this year.

In such a backdrop, the reply and submissions filed by the applicant on July 17, 2012 assumes significance. The submission is attached.

Key submissions in the application are as follows:

As per the order dated 03.05.2012 and the judgment dated 06.07.2012 Basel Convention applies. In the first order dated 14.01.2003, which was coated with approval and the subsequent order dated 06.09.2007, prior decontamination by the Country of export is required before Ship can be allowed entry in the territorial waters. The prior inform consent procedure is required to be followed. Trans-boundary movement of any hazardous waste from developed country to developing country must be with all transparency and previous consent.

Non-compliance with the recommendations of the Hon'ble Court constituted Inter-ministerial committee (IMC) on ship-breaking under Union Steel Ministry constitutes violation of Court’s order by concerned agencies.

The exporting country must send the documents to the country of import for examination and verification of the inventory. The procedure which is followed today is that the Ship Owner produces the inventory after arrival in the territorial waters. It has become virtually a trade in dumping without any reciprocal obligation of the country involved in such trans- boundary movement. This is against all environmental law and principles.

It is noteworthy that the end-of life vessel is a hazardous waste. The end-of-life ships are laden with asbestos, PCBs and heavy metals. These ‘floating wastes’ are being dumped in India.

It is for US Maritime Administration (US MARAD), US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the ship owner in question to disclose the original inventory of hazardous and radioactive materials on board the vessel, ex Exxon Valdez. The MoEF is the nodal Ministry to verify this inventory in advance and grant prior inform consent. The said inventory has to be rechecked by the Central Pollution Control Board, GPCB, Customs and Gujarat Maritime Board. In the absence of required laboratory facility how can visual inspection alone verify presence or absence of PCBs and other hazardous substances.

The entry permission, anchoring permission and inspection has been granted in violation of Supreme Court order of May 3, 2012, which stands confirmed in the final order dated July 6, 2012.

The permission for anchoring has been granted even without looking at inventory submitted by the Ship for the purpose of verification. The documents show the casual manner in which every ship is allowed to enter territorial waters and beached and that none of the Authorities are concerned about the environment and human health.
There is a need to pierce the corporate veil by examining the current and past ownership documents of this end-of-life vessel to ascertain its past and future liabilities. Industrialized countries like USA should not be allowed to dump their junk into the developing countries like India on the account of easy availability of vulnerable and disposable workforce and alien coastal ecosystem. The eagerness to profit from one of the world's dirtiest industries, the dismantling of toxic ships by migrant and casual workers from Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar and Odisha at Alang beach is fraught with disastrous environmental and occupational health consequences.

In such a situation, there is a compelling reason for this ex- US ship to be sent away from the Indian waters. It is trying to repeat the story of another dubious dead US ship Platinum II (ex SS Independence, MV Oceanic) to set a bad a precedent to ensure that it paves the way for hundreds of dead toxic US ships waiting to be dumped in Indian waters.

For Details: Gopal Krishna, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), Mb: 9818089660, E-mail-krishna1715@gmail.com, Web:toxicswatch.blogspot.com


Press Note

Collusion of Govt Agencies & Violation of Basel Convention and Court Order by Asbestos laden ex US Ship to be heard by apex court on July 20

Ministries of Defence and Steel Should Act to Prevent Threat to Maritime and Environmental Security


New Delhi July 19, 2012: Supreme Court’s bench of Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice J. Chelameswar will hear will hear the matter of violation of UN’s Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal and court’s May 3, 2012 order and July 6, 2012 judgment by ex US Ship Exxon Valdez (currently named MV Oriental N) on July 20, 2012. India is a party to the Convention. Unlike what is claimed by the ship breaker and the colluding government agencies teh attached diagram shows the hazardous materials in Exxon Valdez like ships.

The process of shipbreaking creates various health – threatening hazardous materials is beyond doubt. Apart from the hazardous materials, namely asbestos, lead, Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), found present on the vessel, there would be other hazardous, highly toxic gases generated by the cutting of the metal and the painted steel structure with oxyacetylene torches. It is beyond doubt that the workers present on the site will be exposed to chemicals such as Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCB), Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), tin-organic compounds, Tributyltin (TBT), oil, asbestos dust and other fumes and gases containing dioxins, isocyanine gas, sulphur etc.

Information found in a Factsheet issued by the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration reads as follows:
What are some of the hazards associated with shipbreaking?
Shipbreaking operations expose workers to a wide range of hazards or workplace activities or conditions likely to cause injury or illness. These include the following:
Hazardous Exposures
* Asbestos-in hanger liners, mastic under insulation, cloth over insulation, cable, lagging and insulation on pipes and hull, adhesive, gaskets on piping connections, and valve packing.
* Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)-in rubber products such as hoses, plastic foam insulation, cables, silver paint, habitability paint, felt under septum plates, plates on top of the hull bottom, and primary paint on hull steel.
*Lead-from lead and chromate paint, lead ballast, batteries, generators, and motor components.
* Hazardous material and chemicals-including heavy metals in ship transducers, ballast, and paint coatings; mercury in fluorescent light tubes, thermometers, electrical switches, light fittings, fire detectors, and tank-level indicators; and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in self-contained refrigeration devices such as water coolers and small freezer units.
* Excess noise-associated with grinding, hammering, metal cutting, and other activities.
* Fire-from ignited insulation, matting, lagging, and residual fuel; and from lubricants and other flammable liquids.

The fact is that none of the ships including the hazardous ex-US ship now in Indian coastal environment have complied with the Convention despite court’s order. This means that neither the direction of prior decontamination of the end of life ship in the country of export nor the prior informed consent procedure has been followed.

Admittedly, the ex-US ship has not complied with the Convention and the May 3 and July 6 2012 order. Arguing the case on July 19, 2012, Mr Sanjay Parikh, lawyer, Supreme Court argued that the authorities and the ship breaker have violated the court’s order and the Convention.

The relevant part of the May 3 order which requires compliance with Convention, reads: “A copy (of the application) has been provided to Mr. Ashok Bhan, learned senior counsel appearing for the Union of India and Mr. T.S. Doabia, learned senior counsel, who submits that he is appearing on behalf of the Ministry of Shipping, Government of India. Both, Mr. Bhan and Mr. Doabia, are requested to take instructions on the statements made in the interlocutory application and to inform this Court as to the steps being taken to prevent the ship berthing in any of the ports in India, without following the conditions indicated in the Basel Convention.”

The para 35 of the July 6 judgment reads:“The Central Government is also directed to ban import of all hazardous/toxic wastes which had been identified and declared to be so under the BASEL Convention and its different protocols. The Central Government is also directed to bring the Hazardous Wastes (Management & Handling) Rules, 1989, in line with the BASEL Convention and Articles 21, 47 and 48A of the Constitution.” This judgment is consistent with multilateral decisions made in October 2011, when 178 parties to the Basel Convention met in Cartagena, Colombia to not only re-endorse the Basel Ban Amendment forbidding the export of hazardous wastes from rich to poorer countries, but also resolve that the Basel Convention must continue to prohibit the dumping of end-of-life vessels on developing countries.

The court has made it clear that according to the apex court’s October 13, 1997 and October 14, 2003 orders, ship-breaking operations could not be allowed to continue without strictly adhering to Basel Convention, precautionary principles, Central Pollution Control Board guidelines and without taking proper safeguards.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh Supreme Court in WRIT PETITION NO. 7260 OF 2008 has noted in its attached judgment that “The harm caused by shipbreaking might not be so intolerable if the vessels were decontaminated prior of importing the same and if sufficient infrastructure, precautionary and security measures are put in place to deal with hazardous working conditions and for handling and management of harmful waste materials which will inevitably be produced by the process of dismantling.” It has reached the conclusion that “Decommissioned sea-going vessels, including end-of-life single-hull oil tankers which have been destined for disposal recycling, are being sent from European and other countries to be dismantled in Bangladesh without first being decontaminated of hazardous materials as is required by the Basel Convention.” This has been referred to in the application that will be heard on July 20, 2012.

The order refers to India’s Supreme Court order saying, “We note that in the Writ Petition No. 657 of 1995 Research Foundation for Science vs. Technology National Resource Policy, the Supreme Court of India passed an order dated 14.10.2003 wherein they noted the key objectives of the Basel Convention as follows: to minimise the generation of hazardous wastes in terms of quantity and hazardousness; to dispose of them as close to the source of generation as possible; to reduce the transport and movement of hazardous wastes.” Bangladesh Supreme Court appreciates Indian court’s October 14, 2003 judgment but criticizes its September 2007 order saying, “...the decision of the Supreme Court in its judgment on the Blue Lady in 2007 is contradictory to its decision on ship dismantling delivered in 2003. Its restrictive approach of sustainable development in the decision in 2003 provided that in order to achieve sustainable development environmental protection shall constitute an integral part of the development process and cannot be considered in isolation from it; the shipbreaking operation cannot be permitted to be continued without strictly adhering to all precautionary principles; the court ordered that before a ship arrives at port, it should have proper consent from the concerned authority or the State Maritime Board, stating that it does not contain any hazardous waste or radioactive substances on board; the Court obliges that all ships “should be properly decontaminated by the ship owner prior to the breaking.”

ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA) had also written to Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport seeking its intervention to stop dumping of toxic ships by enacting illegitimate subordinate legislations.

TWA has been campaigning against the US Ship Disposal Policy of US Maritime Administration (US MARAD) that is exploiting the weakness in India’s environmental regulatory agencies, has unfolded it s with Indian sea coasts as one of its key destinations. In the aftermath of the July 6 judgment, the fate of Sierra Leone flagged ex end-of-life US ship Exxon Valdez (currently named MV Oriental N, IMO No. 8414520) appears sealed.

The central and Gujarat government authorities will now have to take steps to prevent the entry of another dead and hazardous US flagged ship, “DELAWARE TRADER” (IMO No. 8008929) has been cleared by the U.S. Maritime Administration (US MARAD) for dismantling in the infamous shipbreaking yards of Alang beach, Bhavnagar, Gujarat. It is expected to arrive in Indian waters in the coming days. It was last reported at the Port of Maputo, Mozambique on 13 June, 2012. TWA demands that DELAWARE TRADER should not be allowed to enter Indian waters. These ships enter Indian waters and present fait accompli to the law enforcement agencies. The court’s order will act as a deterrent.

In para 31 of the July 6 judgment, it reads:“…the question of ship breaking and distribution of hazardous wastes are being considered separately in the contempt proceedings, in these proceedings we expect and eiterate that the directions contained in the BASEL Convention have to be strictly followed by all the concerned players, before a vessel is allowed to enter Indian territorial waters and beach at any of the beaching facilities in any part of the Indian coast-line. In case of breach of the conditions, the authorities shall impose the penalties contemplated under the municipal laws of India.”

In manifest contempt of court, Gujarat Pollution Control Board, Gujarat Maritime Board, Union Environment & Forests Ministry and Union Ministry of Shipping have colluded to give clean chit to the hazardous ex US ship.

Sovereignty in international law is an accepted principle. Dumping of hazardous waste like end of life ships violates it.

For Details: Gopal Krishna, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), Mb: 9818089660, E-mail-krishna1715@gmail.com, Web:toxicswatch.blogspot.com
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