The French warship, Clemenceau.
Greenpeace has called on Indian authorities to take urgent
action to stop the illegal import of the toxic behemoth
'Clemenceau,' and to ensure that the import of this ship will not
contravene the Supreme Court order on ship recycling or the Basel
convention on trans-boundary movement of hazardous waste. This is
the second reminder that Greenpeace has sent to the concerned
Indian Ministries and authorities.
Clemenceau has been ridden with controversy right from the day
she was decommissioned in 1997 after 35 years of service; the
33,000-tonne ship was sold to a Spanish company, which undertook to
tow it to the port of Gijon in northern Spain to be demolished.
French authorities had declared that all toxic wastes contained
in the ship - like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), tributylin
(TBT) and approximately 210 tonnes of Asbestos, amongst others -
would be decontaminated before the ship was recycled. But
surprisingly on leaving its Mediterranean base at Toulon, the
carrier was seen heading not towards the straits of Gibraltar --
and thus to Spain's Atlantic coast -- but eastwards towards Turkey.
A clause in the contract stipulated that the demolition had to take
place in Europe and not in Turkey, in keeping with European
Conventions on the issue of Asbestos removal.
Faced with this flagrant violation of the commitments made by
the company, the French government cancelled the contract to the
Spanish company. Thereafter the French Government offered the ship
to a German firm, which planned to break it up in the Greek port of
Piraeus, and with negotiations underway between the two companies
the Clemenceau was stranded at anchor off the Sicilian coast.
In November 2003, Turkey and Greece refused to allow Clemenceau
to enter their waters until it had been decontaminated. Both
governments were aware that the aircraft carrier would have vast
quantities of toxics materials such as PCBs,, TBT, Asbestos, and in
all probability, radioactive waste on board. The French authorities
had committed to decontaminating the ship in Spain, but for
inexplicable reasons the ship never reached Spain, following which
both Turkey and Greece refused to allow the ship to be scrapped at
The EU Waste Shipment Regulation 259/93 (EU Waste Regulation)
obligates the Member States, France in this particular case, to
ensure that the notification procedure is followed; to ensure that
there is consent in writing; to ensure that the shipment of waste
is reduced to the minimum, consistent with environmentally sound
and efficient management of such wastes; not to allow the export of
hazardous or other wastes if the Member State has reason to believe
that the wastes in question will not be managed in an
Environmentally Sound Management manner; and if illegally shipped,
to take back the waste.
The requirement of written prior consent based on adequate
information (Prior Informed Consent or Notification) and the
requirement that hazardous wastes to be exported are subject to
Environmental Sound Management are two important legal obligations
of the Basel Convention to be respected in the case of the export
of the "Clemenceau" to France.
For India the orders of the Indian Supreme Court clearly
indicate that ships need to be free of hazardous substances before
they come onshore for ship-breaking. In addition the Court orders
place the responsibility for removing the hazardous waste on the
ship owner. Hence any ship that is sent for breaking must be
Greenpeace India has been protesting against the deemed illegal
import of the Clemenceau and states that it is imperative that the
government take the following steps:
- Immediately ask France to clarify whether all relevant
obligations and procedures of the international regulation on ship
recycling (in particular the EU WS Regulation) have been complied
with, including obtainment of "non objection certificate from the
Indian Ministry(s) of Defense and Environment and Forest."
- Check as a matter of urgency and priority full compliance with
the requirements under the orders of the Indian Supreme Court, in
particular the need for decontamination.
- Inform the Customs department in Bhavnagar and in Mumbai that
they cannot allow the import of such ship if they fail to provide
"No objection Certificate from Government of India".
For further information, please contact:
Greenpeace Campaigner, +919845535414
, Greenpeace Media Officer, 98108 50092