Toxic Ship on its way to India

Greenpeace alerts Indian authorities on possible arrival of a Toxic-Warship for breaking

Feature story - August 3, 2004
ALANG, India — Following reports of the intended export of the controversial French Aircraft Carrier, ‘Clemenceau’ to India for recycling, Greenpeace urged the Indian authorities to keep in mind that this toxic behemoth has been rejected by Turkey and Greece in the past citing a series of chemical hazards on board.


Greenpeace has contacted the concerned Indian Ministries and authorities to ensure that the import of this ship for recycling will not contravene the Supreme Court order on ship recycling or the Basel convention on transboundary movement of hazardous waste.

In November 2003, both Turkey and Greece refused entry to Clemenceau in 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 (polychlorinated biphenyls), TBT (tributyltin) 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 their countries.

Recent reports in Indian media have indicated that the Clemenceau will be sent to Indian ship-breaking yards after the Asbestos on board has been removed a procedure that should take about six months. Greenpeace has called upon the French authorities to remove all other toxic materials such as TBT, PCBs and radioactive substances besides asbestos.

French authorities must adhere to EU Waste shipment law, IMO guidelines on Ship recycling and the Basel Convention and must respect the Indian Supreme Court order on Ship recycling. French Authorities must hand over the "Inventory of Hazardous Materials" according to the industry code of practice. Greenpeace also urges Indian ship-breakers to refuse to entertain any deals if the French authorities fail to provide the "No objection certificate" from Government of India.

India is in a position to ensure that the Clemenceau trade is in keeping with the procedures obligatory under international legal frameworks for ship recycling, like the Basel Convention Regime and the orders of the Indian Supreme Court. The Basel Regime is the Basel Convention, the Basel Ban Amendment and the Decisions made by the Conference of the Parties (COPs). Some elements of the EU Waste Shipment Regulation (EEC 259/93) can be considered part of that Basel Regime, regulating the transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and their disposal.

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 the hazardous waste on the ship owner. Hence any ship that is sent for breaking must be decontaminated.

Thus, in order to prevent the deemed illegal export of the "Clemenceau" to India, it is imperative for India to take the following course of action:

* 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 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 Custom 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: Ramapati Kumar, Ship-breaking Campaigner, Greenpeace India: +919845535414 3

Footnote on the Indian Supreme Court Order: Order of the Supreme Court of India, Civil original jurisdiction, writ petition No 657 of 1995, New Delhi 14 October 2003, page 42-45.: Amongst others: Order no 1 on shipbreaking: "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 radio-active substances […]. Order no 2: "The ship should be properly decontaminated by the ship owner prior to the breaking […]."