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High court challenge to stop toxic French ship arriving in Britain

Written By mediavigil on Saturday, September 20, 2008 | 8:26 AM

On September 18, 2008, The Telegraph reported that Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is making inquiries into an accident at a dockyard in Graythorp.

The site of the accident was the Teesside Environmental Reclamation and Recycling Centre, owned by Able UK.

It was recently awarded a contract for the dismantling of asbestos-contaminated French vessel Le Clemenceau. Able will also be launching an investigation into the accident. Groups such as Friends of Hartlepool have launched a high court challenge to prevent the toxic "ghost ship" Clemenceau being dismantled at the site.

Concerns about the risk of asbestos contained by ship, which is estimated to be 700 tonnes, are a motivating factor in the opposition.

High court challenge to stop toxic French ship arriving in Britain

A High Court challenge has been launched to stop a French aircraft carrier being broken up in Britain after it was deemed too toxic to be taken apart in India.

By Sarah Knapton
3 September, 2008, The Telegraph

The 27,000 tonne Clemenceau, which contains 700 tonnes of asbestos, is set to be dismantled by Able UK in Hartlepool after the company was granted a licence by the Health and Safety Executive.

But Jean Kennedy, of the Friends of Hartlepool group, is taking legal action against the HSE to prevent the ageing aircraft carrier being brought to British shores.
"The HSE have made a special exception to allow this toxic ghost ship and its deadly cargo into our local community," she said.

"We feel that it is a deep injustice to force a small town, which has already disproportionately suffered the ill-effects of polluting industries and has one of the highest cancer rates in the UK, to accept France's toxic waste."

Clemenceau, often affectionately called "le Clem'", was the lead ship of her class, and the 8th aircraft carrier of the French Navy, serving from 1961 to 1997.

The ship was due to be broken up in India but an embarrassed Jacques Chirac was forced to recall the ship after socialist opposition in France accused the president of sending waste abroad while "lecturing the world on the environment."
But the French finally struck a deal with Able UK earlier this year to the anger of local residents.
Hartlepool campaigner Iris Ryder said: "The legal challenge is the beginning of a new stage in the fight by Hartlepool residents to prevent our community from becoming the international toxic waste dumping ground of choice of both governments and polluting industries.

"Toxic waste should be disposed of close to where it is produced, not transported around the world to be buried in our community."

The French have struggled to find a final resting place for The Clemenceau since December 2005 when she first set sail for India. Protests by Greenpeace led the Supreme Court of India to temporarily deny access.

When the ship reached Egypt in January 2006, she was boarded by two Greenpeace activists and denied access to the Suez Canal by the Egyptian authorities.
Although she was eventually allowed to pass, Chirac ordered Clemenceau to return to French waters and remain on standby at the naval port of Brest where she has been for the past two years until the deal was struck Able UK.

An Able UK spokesman said they expect the ship to arrive from France imminently. A hearing is expected to take place at the Royal Courts of Justice later this month.

Fight to stop scrapping of French vessel Clemenceau
GazetteLive, UK, 5 September

A LEGAL challenge has been mounted to stop a French aircraft carrier being scrapped by Able UK. The Hartlepool-based firm behind the so-called ghost ships plan wants to dismantle the 32,700-tonne Clemenceau at its Graythorp TERRC facility.

But the Friends of Hartlepool group have raised concerns about the vessel which contains asbestos. Legal firm, Public Interest Lawyers (PIL) acting on behalf of Jean Kennedy of the environmental group, has launched a legal challenge against the Health and Safety Executive’s decision to grant a certificate, allowing the import of the ship.

Mrs Kennedy said: “We feel that it is a deep injustice to force a small town - which has already disproportionately suffered the ill-effects of polluting industries and has one of the highest cancer rates in the UK - to accept France’s toxic waste.”
Phil Shiner from PIL said: “When the facilities exist within France to dispose of the toxic waste aboard the Clemenceau, the HSE has a duty to consider these alternatives.”

A spokesman for the Health and Safety Executive said they could not comment until after the hearing, which is expected to take place later this month.
But Able UK hit back, stating the claims by Friends of Hartlepool are “riddled with inaccuracies deliberately designed to smear our company and mislead the public again”.

“Able, as a named interested party, does not believe that the arguments put forward have merit and questions the justification for further public money being incurred on such a damaging exercise,” said an Able UK spokesman.

“One has to ask the question as to why a small number of activists continue to take up the time of the UK legal system, costing Hartlepool taxpayers’ money, constantly costing UK taxpayers’ money, in a desperate effort to maintain the totally discredited scaremongering.

“The contract for the Q790 (Clemenceau) will provide in excess of 50 direct jobs for a year and around 26,000 tonnes of steel scrap material for recycling.”
Dismantling of the Clemenceau would take place alongside the other vessels already berthed at TERRC - including the four ‘ghost ships’ from the American National Defence Reserve Fleet and three UK ships.

It would be the biggest ship recycling project so far handled by any European yard.
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