She wants a final resting place. But after everybody turned her back — as her death could bring devastation to several others — the destination of the Gulf Josh may now be Alang in Gujarat.
The ship, originally known as the Probe Koala and owned by London-based Refigure, was used to refine low-grade naphtha with caustic soda on the Mediterranean Sea as the technology cannot be used on land anywhere in the world because of environmental hazards.The Gulf Josh is believed to be carrying toxic chemicals, including mercaptans — a group of sulphur-containing substances — that attack the respiratory system and hydrogen that affects the central nervous system.
The ship has been on the move since 2007 from Ivory Coast to the United States to West Asia to Vietnam in a bid to find a place to dump its waste and get dismantled.
The US-based Global Marketing Systems, which is at present operating the ship, specialises in ship-breaking. But the owner of the company, Anil Sharma, did not respond to calls from Hindustan Times nor did his company respond to an email questionnaire.
Now, the Gulf Jash may be on her way from Vietnam to the Alang ship-breaking yard after Bangladesh refused her entry last week. Chittagong in Bangladesh and Alang in Gujarat are the world’s two biggest sites for dismantling ships.
“We have directed the ship-breakers’ association, the port authorities and the Coast Guard not to allow the Gulf Jash into Bangladeshi territorial waters,” government official Zafar Alam told the media.
Rizwana Hasan, director of Bangladesh Environment Lawyers Association told HT: “After Chittagong, the only place where such a ship can be dismantled is Alang.”
But the Indian government is still clueless. “We have no information about the ship,” said environment minister Jairam Ramesh.