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Toxic US Ship Violates Supreme Court Order

Written By Krishna on Friday, June 15, 2012 | 10:10 AM

Note: The fact is that September 2007 order of the Supreme Court has reproduced ad verbatim the court's landmark judgement of October 14, 2003. The relevant part of the order in the WRIT PETITION NO. 657 OF 1995 case which needs to be read before opining on the legality or illegality of the entry toxic dead US vessel, Exxon Valdez (now called Oriental MV) is as under:70-2. (2) Ship Breaking: -

We accept the following recommendations of HPC (High Powered Committee):

1. 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. AERE should be consulted in the matter in appropriate cases.

2. The ship should be property decontaminated by the ship owner prior to the breaking. This should be ensured by the SPCBS.

3. Waste generated by the ship breaking process should be classified into hazardous and non-hazardous categories, and their quantify should be made known to the concerned authority or the State Maritime Board.

4. Disposal of waste material, viz. Oil, cotton, dead cargo of inorganic material like hydrated/solidified elements, thermocol pieces, glass wool, rubber, broken tiles, etc. should be done in a proper manner, utilizing technologies that meet the criteria of an effective destruction efficiently of 99.9 per cent, with no generation of persistent organic pollutants, and complete containment of all gaseous, liquid and solid residues for analysis and, if needed, reprocessing. Such disposed of material should be kept at a specified placed earmarked for this purpose. Special care must be taken in the handling of asbestos wastes, and total quantities of such waste should be made known to the concerned authorities. The Gujarat Pollution Control Board should authorize appropriates final disposal of asbestos waste.

5. The ship breaking industries should be given authorization under Rule 5 of the H.W. Rules, 2003, only if they have provisions for disposal of the waste in environmentally sound manner. All authorizations should be renewed only if an industry has facilities for disposal of waste in environmentally sound manner.

6. The State Maritime Board should insist that all quantities of waste oil, sludge and other similar ' mineral oils and paints chips are carefully removed from the ship and taken immediately to areas outside the beach, for safe disposal.

7. There should be immediate ban of burning of any material whether hazardous or non hazardous on the beach.

8. The State Pollutions Control Board (of Gujarat and other coastal States where this ship breaking activity is done) be directed to close all units which are not authorized under the HW Rules.

9. That the plots where no activities are being currently conducted should not be allowed to commence any fresh ship breaking activity unless they have necessary authorization.

10. The Gujarat PCBs should ensure continuous monitoring of ambient air and noise level as per the standards fixed. The Gujarat PCBs be further directed to install proper equipment and infrastructure for analysis to enable it to conduct first ever inspection of hazardous material, radio-active substances (wherever applicable). AER shall be consulted in such cases.

11. The Gujarat SPCB will ensure compliance-of the new Gujarat Maritime Board (Prevention of Fire & Accidents for Safety & Welfare of Workers and Protection of Environment during Ship breaking Activities) Regulations, 2000, by Gujarat Maritime Board and should submit a compliance report to the Court within one year of the coming into force of the said regulations.

12. The Notification issued by GMB in 2001 on Gas Free for Hot Work, should be made mandatory and no ship should be given a beaching permission unless this certificates is shown. Any explosion irrespective of the possession of certification should be dealt sternly and the license of the plot holder should be cancelled and Explosives inspector should be prosecuted accordingly for giving false certificate.

13. A complete inventory of hazardous waste on board of ship should be made mandatory for the ship owner. And not breaking permission should be granted without such an inventory. This inventory should also be submitted by the GMB to concerned SPCBs to ensure safe disposal of hazardous and toxics waste.

14. Gujarat Maritime Board and Gujarat SPCB officers should visit sites at regular intervals so that the plot owner know that these institutions are serious about improvement in operational standards. An Inter-Ministerial Committee comprising Ministry of Surface Transport, Ministry of Steel, Ministry of Labour and Ministry of Environment should be constituted with the-involvement of labour and environment organizations and representatives of the ship breaking industry.

ToxicsWatch Alliance has sought compliance with the above mentioned order besides the recommendations of the Hon'ble court's Inter-Ministerial Committee on Shipbreaking. On May 3, 2012, the court asked the Union Government to file an affidavit as to whether the ship in question has complied with the Basel Convention. More than a month has passed but compliance affidavit has not been filed. In such a situation, there is a compelling logic for this dead hazardous 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 to be dumped in Indian waters.

Gopal Krishna
ToxicsWatch Alliance

Review papers had cleared the deck for controversial US ship


Posted: Jun 14, 2012

Ahmedabad Controversial US ship Oriental Nicety, formerly known as Exxon Valdez, has no hazardous waste onboard in loose form, according to the desk review documents submitted by a shipping agency to various state bodies, including Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB).

Some hazardous materials — asbestos, glasswool, ply and asbestos containing material (ACM) — may be found as insulating material in the ship’s engine and boiler areas and some cabins and walls, stated the documents of Shreeji Shipping accessed by The Indian Express.

Such inbuilt materials are allowed by the Indian authorities as per rules framed under the Supreme Court’s 2007 order on ship-breaking.

Besides GMB, the documents were submitted to the Gujarat Pollution Control Board and the Customs department before the ship was denied permission to dock at Alang early this year.

The documents state there are two ballast tanks, seven tanks of furnace oil, three tanks of marine gasoline oil (diesel) and seven tanks of lubricating oil. Various kinds of acids, chemicals, paints, greases and gases are also present onboard.

The quantities of these are yet to be ascertained, and would anyway make little difference since they are part of the vessel and crew’s requirements.

To a section which asks “whether any hazardous waste found in loose form onboard”, the documents state “NIL”.

Authorities looking after Alang, where the US-built ship was headed for dismantling, had denied permission to the vessel to anchor in the first week of May, saying the matter was sub-judice.

Later, a vacation bench of the SC also refused to grant the ship permission to anchor although owners argued there was no hazardous material onboard.

The court was hearing a PIL on implementation of the Basel Convention by activist Gopal Krishna of Toxics Watch Alliance, who reportedly told the court that “the ship, which is alleged to be contaminated, has entered Indian waters without taking proper steps for decontamination in the port of export”.

The two-judge SC bench preferred a response from the Ministry of Shipping and Transport before passing an order, and the next hearing is scheduled for August 18.

Since then, the 288m-long ship is believed to have been floating somewhere off India’s north-western coast with a 15-member crew, which the documents say are all Indians — four from Punjab, three each from Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, with one crew member each hailing from Kerala, Tamil Nadu and J&K.

In one of the world’s worst environment disasters, the Exxon Valdez had spilled an estimated 2.5 lakh barrels of crude oil off the Alaskan coast in 1989.

The 27-year-old ship (gross tonnage 1,12,088) has changed names at least seven times and hoisted at least four flags (US, Marshall Islands, Panama and Sierra Leone) since then, and is currently known as M V Oriental N, an ore carrier.

It is currently owned by Best Oasis Ltd, a part of the Bhavnagar-based Priya Blue Group.

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