Illegal Traffic of Toxic Waste Laden Ship Blue Lady
6 July 2006 (New Delhi) – The 'Indian Platform on Ship-breaking' has
condemned the entry of the 'SS Blue Lady' (ex SS Norway, SS France)
in Indian territorial waters at Gujarat's Pipavav port of Amreli district.
Indian Platform on Ship-breaking has called upon authorities to act
against Star Cruises Ltd who is the owner of the ship. Admittedly,
there are more than 1,200 metric tonnes of asbestos and unknown quantities
of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and other toxic substances in
the ship. India does not have the facilities or capacity to deal with
asbestos, and has never dealt with PCBs. This is further corroborated
by a report entitled "Memo: SS Blue Lady case-Potential hazardous
materials and removal options" by Aage Anderson. The Platform has
also alerted the German Embassy in India about the illegal export
of the SS Blue Lady (aka SS Norway, SS France) to Asia from Bremerhaven,
Germany last 23 May 2005.
The Platform deems entry of the ship as a systematic and deliberate
violation of Indian, German, EU and International law on trans-boundary
movement of hazardous waste by the ship's owner Star Cruise. Star
Cruises is one of the world's leading luxury liner company with presence
in India as well. The Indian Supreme Court allowed the vessel to anchor
off Alang on humanitarian grounds. However, the ship-owners and buyers
chose not to use the lenient gesture of the Supreme Court and moved
the ship to Dubai through monsoon waters endangering the crew on board.
The Platform has submitted another report entitled "Norwegian Cruise
Lines and Star Cruises Ltd: Deceiving Germany and Violating International
Laws in the Export of the SS Norway to India" to the Technical Experts
committee appointed by the Indian Supreme Court. This report discloses
new evidence on how Star Cruises and its subsidiary, Norwegian Cruise
Lines, deceived German authorities of their intent to dispose of the
vessel in India.
The Platform has appealed to Germany to enforce the law because the
decision to scrap the ship was made before the ship left Bremerhaven
in Germany. Under EU law and Basel Convention, the ship's export from
Germany constitutes an illegal hazardous waste export.
Meanwhile, The International Metalworkers' Federation's (IMF) have
recently published findings from a survey of over 1600 workers from
the ship breaking industry in India. IMF report said, "The rate of
injury is 50 workers per day and sometime workers die due to inadequate
or lack of medical facility. Report of casualty is seldom made. It
further says, "The service and working conditions are very much exploitative
and poor. The workers have no specific training on handling the hazardous
toxic material and they are ignorant of its ill effects" amid "absence
of labour legislations."
"These workers are among the most vulnerable workers in our sectors,
constantly migrating in search of seasonal jobs in the shipyards,
subject to ruthless employers who are callous about their occupational
health and safety and totally ignored by the political authorities,"
said P K Ganguly of CITU. He added, "workers in Alang face daily exploitation
and exposure to life-threatening hazards due to the inability of the
government to establish and enforce standards."
The entry of the ship is highly irregular, considering that the Government
has not insisted on Court-mandated paperwork for such imports. The
Technical Committee admits that no comprehensive inventory of toxic
substances is available, and the quantity of PCB-contaminated material
is not known. There is no documentation to prove that Haryana Ship
Demolitions has even purchased the ship. No mention is made of the
fact that the Government of Bangladesh rejected the ship on environmental
grounds. The ship owner and ship breaker have misled the Supreme Court
of India by providing wrong information to a Technical Committee set
up by the Court in February 2006. The ship owner sought permission
for anchoring off Alang citing "difficulties due to monsoon storm"
after having timed the ship's departure to coincide with monsoons
after an 8-month wait in Malaysia.
"The Supreme Court's Technical Committee's recommendations allowing
Blue Lady to enter into India on 5th June, 2006 were made without
hearing the petitioner, without adequate information or the legally
mandated paperwork, and in violation of the Supreme Court's own order
of October 2003 which seeks prior decontamination and an inventory
of hazardous wastes on board," said Gopal Krishna of Indian Platform
"Blue Lady arrived in Indian waters on 30th June, 2006 with a sordid
history riddled with lies, corruption and systematic abuse of International
and Indian laws," said Madhumitta Dutta of Corporate Accountability
Platform's global counterpart has formally requested the German parliament,
the Ministry of Environment, European Commission, German Basel Focal
Point, and the Human Rights Special Rapporteur on Toxic Waste Dumping
for urgent action with regard to Blue Lady.
For more information:
Gopal Krishna, Indian Platform on Ship breaking, firstname.lastname@example.org,
Ramapati Kumar, Greenpeace, email@example.com, 09845535414
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