In a major setback to dirty ships from United States, the Supreme Court on Monday refused permission to beaching of US toxic ship Oriental Nicety - involved in worst oil spill disaster in Alaska in 1989 - from beaching in Indian ports till it is pre-cleaned.
The ship, Oriental Nicety also known as Exxon Valdez, entered Indian water over a month ago and has been awaiting permission for berth in an Indian port. The ship is destined for the world’s biggest ship breaking industry at Alang in Gujarat where a local agent has bought the ship last week.
Sanjay Parekh of Research Foundation for Science moved an application in the apex court saying that the ship, which has been involved in worst environmental disaster, should not be allowed to port as it has not been decontaminated.
Under the international treaty on trans-boundary movement of ships, the Basel Convention, ships, which are not de-contaminated at the port of import, cannot be allowed entry in water of the developing countries.
Parekh claimed that the US ship has not been de-contaminated in the port of export, which amounted to violation of the Basel convention, covering around 150 nations excluding United States.
US had refused to sign the convention that prevents rich nations to dump hazardous waste in ships in the developing countries. But, a large number of toxic ships from US reach ports of the developing countries for breaking.
The court, in its order, said the ship cannot be allowed to berth until its meets the Basel Convention. It also instructed the Central Government to ensure that the ship is not allowed to land in any Indian port until it is fully decontaminated to make it non-hazardous.
Oriental Nicety is an end of the life ship, which as per definition of the government’s Central Pollution Control Board is hazardous. Gopal Krishna of NGO ToxicWatch said that the ship cannot be allowed entry into Indian ports as it violates Basel Convention and CBCB norms.
Normally, a ship changes several hands before its final journey thereby estimating the amount of toxics in the ship difficult. It is for this reason the toxicity of Oriental Nicety is not known.