Friday, April 22, 2005
unsubstantiated rumors that Danish authorities have alerted India about a toxic ship that gave them the slip and is now heading towards Gujarat's Alang ship breaking yard, says "Greenpeace" India. The environmental advocacy agency said in a release that Danish Environmental Minister Connie Hedegaard has sent a fax letter to her Indian counterpart A Raja warning him that a toxic ship-for-scrap carrying carcinogenic asbestos insulation is expected to arrive in India this week. The ferry ship Kong Frederik IX (now known as Frederik) left Denmark on March 16 and was headed to the Alang yard, 220 kilometre from here, for breaking, the letter sent last Friday stated. "The ship owners escaped Danish authorities, misleading Danish officials that had ordered the Kong Frederik IX to remain in Denmark until it had been decontaminated. "Instead, the ship slipped out of a Danish port, and quickly changed its flag and name (to Frederik) and headed straight to Alang for breaking. The Danish Minister is asking India to consider this ship illegal traffic under the Basel Convention and have it returned to Denmark so it can be stripped of hazardous substances," the release said. Under the Basel Convention on Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and the Basel Ban Amendment decision, both fully implemented by the European Union, Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries like Denmark are prohibited from exporting hazardous wastes to non-OECD nations. The letter from the Danish authorities also reminds Indian authorities of the Indian Supreme Court order prohibiting the import of hazardous wastes, and requiring India to participate in international negotiations with a clear mandate for the decontamination of ships of all hazardous substances prior to export. "In the case of ships-for-scrap, this order has only been observed in the breach," said Ramapati Kumar, toxics campaigner of Greenpeace India. "Instead of enforcing full decontamination, the Indian Government has shown remarkable leniency towards ship-breakers who violate the law by importing ships containing hundreds of tons of toxic substances including asbestos and chemicals such as polychlorinated biphenyls. "The Basel Convention rules are clear - they demand that India respect Denmark's request to declare the ship illegal traffic and refuse to allow it to be dumped in India," he added.
The Kong Frederik IX ~No alert received from Denmark~ India will ensure full regulatory compliance regarding a toxic ship reported to be sailing towards Gujarat though no alert has been received from the Denmark government, an environment ministry spokesperson said on Wednesday. "At this point, we have no record of a formal request from the Danish government to stop the entry of any Danish ship into Indian waters. Nevertheless, the regulatory requirement applicable in India will be fully ensured," the official told reporters. According to two media reports, including one based on a statement from Greenpeace India, the Danish authorities have alerted India about a toxic ship that gave them the slip and is now heading towards Gujarat's Alang ship breaking yard. The environment ministry has clarified that "under the Basel Convention (on Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and the Basel Ban Amendment decision), there is no legal obligation or power with the government of India to send back a ship sailing under its own power containing asbestos in a functional role in its ship structure." The official statement clarified that India's environment regulatory procedure requires that if a ship contains hazardous material as its cargo, it cannot enter Indian territorial water. "If it contains hazardous material, for which the handling facilities are available in India, as part of ship structure, then during the process of ship breaking these material are removed and sent to a secure landfill," the ministry said.