Victory: Spanish boat ship-shape

Feature story - 22 October, 2004
The eco-scandal of the MV Ulla, a Spanish vessel that recently sank off Turkey along with its cargo of 2000 tons of hazardous waste, has come to an end thanks to ongoing pressure from Greenpeace.

A four year old scandal involving the MV Ulla, a vessel carrying toxic waste, ends with an environmental disaster outside Iskenderun port.

The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has confirmed that the company responsible for the ship, LaFarge, has agreed to pay the removal costs of the waste, estimated to be between US$1.5 and US$1.8 million.

Banu Dokmecibasi, Toxics Campaigner of Greenpeace Mediterranean said: "We are pleased to learn that Spain and Turkey have reached an agreement, which will hopefully lead to the safe and fast removal of any toxic waste from the MV Ulla."

Spanish authorities and representatives of La Farge will visit Iskenderun to examine the site. Then they will determine a road map for clearing up the area.

This environmental fiasco started back in 1999 when 3,488 tons of toxic fly ash was loaded onto the MV Ulla in Spain. It was to be sent to the Spanish company S.A. P/C De Dragados in Algeria. But following Algeria's rejection of the hazardous cargo, the ship mysteriously ended up in Turkey. The vessel had been docked in Turkey for over four years, when it sank on 6 September, after the Turkish authorities had refused to let the cargo be offloaded on its shores.

Greenpeace Turkey activists then dove to the wreck on September 14th to assess the situation, and demanded in front of the Ministry of Environment in Ankara on September 20th that the authorities make a statement describing their action plan.

On October 9th, Greenpeace activists again highlighted the issue, this time in Iskenderun, putting a metal banner on the lighthouse over the wreck, which was named as 'lighthouse of shame' by Greenpeace and locals.

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