Justice for the environment as French Government takes back the Clemenceau

Press release - 15 February, 2006
Greenpeace today celebrated President Jacques Chirac’s decision to call back the decommissioned toxic aircraft carrier, the Clemenceau, to France from its journey to the ship-breaking yards in Alang, India.

Greenpeace activists board the carrier ship Clemenceau 50 nautical miles off the coast of Egypt hanging a banner that reads 'Asbestos carrier stay out of India' .Greenpeace is protesting against the decommission of the Clemenceau, which has been sent to India for decommissioning despite widespread outrage at the high levels of asbestos and other hazardous materials it contains.

Theship left France on December 31, 2005, under a huge cloud ofcontroversy after Greenpeace and other organisations launched acampaign to stop the Clemenceau's export to India to be broken upbecause it contains a toxic cocktail of asbestos, PCBs and heavymetals. Greenpeace declared that the quantities of hazardous wastesstill on board deemed the shipment as illegal trade under the BaselConvention - the international treaty that prohibits the export oftoxic wastes from developed nations to non-OECD countries.

"Thisis a huge victory for the environment, and for the campaign headed upby Greenpeace and other organisations," said Pascal Husting, GreenpeaceFrance Executive Director. "In today's globalised world it is vitalthat nations, such as France and India, co-operate to uphold globaljustice and not shamelessly pass on their responsibility to those invulnerable areas of the planet".

Yesterday, the governmentrepresentative on the Council of State - the French Supreme Court -recommended the suspension of the transfer of the Clemenceau to India,pointing out the possibility that European law may have been violated.President Chirac announced the final decision to retrieve the aircraftcarrier earlier today. Greenpeace also welcomes Chirac's announcementthat France will work with its partners to develop a Europeaninfrastructure for decontaminating

decommissioned ships in Europe before eventually sending them for scrapping to Asia.

TheClemenceau was one of the largest ships to be sent for scrap but everyyear a vast decrepit armada bearing a dangerous cargo of toxicsubstances including asbestos, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) andheavy metals, ends up in Asian ship breaking yards (Bangladesh, India,China and Pakistan) where they are cut up using the crudest of methods- taking a huge toll on human health and the local environment.

"TheClemenceau became the icon of toxic trade abuse between the developedworld and developing countries. With President Chirac's decision, itnow becomes a sign of how Governments, when pressurized by publicopinion, can take corrective action," said Martin Besieux, GreenpeaceInternational Toxics Campaigner. "This incident should set theprecedent not just for ship-breaking, but for all toxic trade."

Greenpeaceis an independent campaigning organisation that uses non-violentcreative confrontation to expose global environmental problems to forcesolutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.

Other contacts: Pascal Husting, Executive Director, Greenpeace France, +33 673 892 319 Martin Besieux, Greenpeace International Toxics Campaigner, +32 496 161 585 Ramapati Kumar, Greenpeace India Toxics Campaigner, +91 98 455 35 414 Vivek Sharma, Greenpeace India Communications, +91 934 378 8424 Mhairi Dunlop, Greenpeace International Communications, +44 7801 212 960

VVPR info: www.greenpeaceweb.org/shipbreak Photos available from Franca Michienzi, Photo Desk +31 653 819 255 Video available from Michael Nagasaka, Video Desk +31 646 166 309