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Ex Exxon Valdez Refused Interim Relief for Entry by Supreme Court Citing UN’s Basel Convention

Written By Krishna on Monday, May 14, 2012 | 2:55 AM

ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)

Press Release

Ex Exxon Valdez Refused Interim Relief for Entry by Supreme Court Citing UN’s Basel Convention

Intervention of Cabinet Committee on Security and Court's Inter Ministerial Committee Needed

New Delhi 14/05/2012: Following the order of Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice J. Chelameswar bench of Supreme Court in the matter of a US hazardous end-of-life vessel ha now been renamed as M V Oriental N. Its former names include Exxon Valdez, Exxon Mediterranean, Sea River Mediterranean, S/R Mediterranean, Mediterranean, Dong Fang Ocean and 'Oriental Nicety').

Today the matter was listed before the bench of Justice Deepak Verma and Justice S J Mukhopadhyaya. The bench asked whether Basel Convention has been complied with. This in effect means that Basel Convention and its Technical Guidelines besides the Guidelines of Central Pollution Control Board has to be followed. When the bench questioned about the ownership of the applicant by drawing the attention to the letter of Gujarat Maritime Board where the name of the real owner occurs. The court also asked the applicant claiming to be ship owner to disclose complete facts about the ownership. The senior counsel for the applicant insisted on passing an interim order which the court refused and made it clear that only after replies are filed by the concerned parties that the application can be heard and issued notice on the application. It will be heard after replies are filed.

Earlier in the May 3, 2012 order, Justice Kabir headed bench said: “The respondents in the interlocutory application will be entitled to file their respective counter affidavits to the same, within six weeks. Rejoinder thereto, if any, may be filed within two weeks thereafter. Let this interlocutory application, as well as the other connected interlocutory applications, be listed on 13th August, 2012, also.”

Following the order the movement of the dead vessel is under scrutiny. The matter was heard on May 11, 2012 and on May 14, 2012. The original application was filed by convener of ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA). Responding to the court's order on this application, the buyer of the ship Best Oasis Company, (a subsidiary of Priya Blue Industries Pvt Ltd) based in Bhavnagar, Gujarat filed an application that was heard today. Best Oasis Company reveals itself as Hongkong based.

In the order dated May 3, 2012, Supreme Court had asked Union of India, Ministry of Shipping and Ministry of Environment & Forests “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.” Mr Sanjay Parikh, lawyer, Supreme Court argued the case on behalf of the petitioner. For details regarding Basel Convention visit: http://www.basel.int

It is clear from the order that compliance with UN’s on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal which is part of Supreme Court's order dated October 14, 2003 is required. This in effect means that

Basel Convention Technical Guidelines for the Environmentally Sound Management of the Full and Partial Dismantling of Ships that was adopted at the sixth meeting of the Conference of the Parties has to be followed. This 112 page guidelines provide information and recommendations on procedures, processes and practices that should be implemented to achieve Environmentally Sound Management at ship dismantling facilities. It identifies different environmental hazards and recommends specific measures to prevent it or reduce them. It also contains a list of wastes that may be inherent in the vessel structure or on board a ship. Finally, the guidelines provide advice on monitoring and verification of environmental performance.

Subsequent to the court order dated May 3, 2012 an application was moved by Best Oasis company claiming to be the buyer of the dead ship in question asking relief for certification of hazardous wastes. The Bench presided by Justice Kabir is seized with the issue of hazardous wastes/shipbreaking passed an order on May 11 listed the matter for listing before the Vacation Bench for deciding whether certification of hazardous wastes can be allowed subject to objection by the petitioner represented by Sanjay Parikh.

Strict compliance is required of the CPCB’s 'Environmental Guidelines for Shipbreaking industries' as well It reads: "Old vessels containing or contaminated with substances such as PCBs, waste asbestos dust and fibre, lead and lead compounds are accordingly classified as hazardous materials. The customs authority and /or the concerned State Maritime Board should ensure this and issue a certificate to this effect that the vessel is free from prohibited materials."

The issue of security concerns raised by Court's Inter Ministerial Committee on Ship breaking, need for Ministry of Defence to give clearance underlined in Navel Intelligence document and suitability of fragile coastal environment of Alang beach for hazardous industrial activity which has been raised by TWA in its application is yet to be responded by the government and heard in the court. TWA demands that Cabinet Committee on Security and Court's Inter Ministerial Committee on Ship breaking must intervene urgently to safeguard and environmental and national security.

For Details: Gopal Krishna, Convener, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), Mb: 9818089660, E-mail:krishna1715@gmail.com Web: toxicswatch.blogspot.com, http://www.basel.int Phone: +91-11-26517814, Fax: +91-11-26517814
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