Toxic Trade News / 13 October 2009
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MoEF seeks details of ship in Alang from Guj authorities
by Press Trust of India
13 October 2009 (Ahmedabad) – The Union Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) has sought details from the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) and Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) on a ship that has come for dismantling at Alang which is allegedly carrying hazardous toxic substance.

"We have sought information from the GPCB and GMB with regard to a ship docked in Alang following an email by the Indian Platform on Ship breaking," Director, Focal Point Basel Convention, Hazardous Substances Management Division (MoEF), Dr Saroj told PTI.

Convener of Indian Platform on Ship breaking (IPOS), Gopal Krishna, in a letter dated October 10 had written to the MoEF that a ship from the US 'Platinum II' (formerly SS Independence) which had anchored at Alang Ship breaking yard in Bhavnagar district, was carrying hazardous toxic waste including radioactive substances.

"This 682 foot ocean liner is loaded with an estimated 210 tons of toxic polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contaminated material and an estimated 250 tons of asbestos as part of its construction," Krishna wrote in the letter and demanded that the ship should be sent back to the US.

Environment officer of GMB Atul Sharma said that the ship, brought in by Kampas Shipping Agency, Alang, is being inspected for hazardous substance and it would go on for the next 10 to 15 days.

"Inspection work is in progress to see if all things are as per Supreme Court guidelines. Since the ship arrived only last week, final clearance could be given after thorough inspection which could take 10-15 days," Sharma added. When asked if 'Platinum-II' had the required documents, the GMB official said, "It had all required documents for considering it for dismantling."

Meanwhile, the regional officer (Bhavnagar) of GPCB G D Patel confirmed that the ship, which had docked in the anchorage area last week, has asbestos content in the sheet used to manufacture it.

"The Platinum-II does not have asbestos in loose form, but it is present in sheet used in the ship," Patel said. "Preliminary estimates indicate that there could be around 200 tonnes of asbestos on the ship," he said, denying the presence of radio active substance on board.

Indian Platform on Ship-breaking, a coalition of environmental, health, labour and human rights NGOs has also alleged that the last owner of the ship Global Marketing Systems was fined USD 518,500 by USEPA (US Environment Protection Agency) for exporting the ship for scrap without prior removal of toxins such as asbestos and PCBs in February 2008.

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