A new controversy has arisen in Alang, as another ship carrying toxic material is sailing towards it on its last journey before dismantling.
According to reports monitored by environmental groups, the 682-feet ship SS Oceanic headed for Alang in Saurashtra coast is carrying 250 tonnes of asbestos, a toxic material that made environmentalists and ship breakers lock horns when the Norwegian ship Blue Lady was beached off the Alang coast two years ago.
The Alang ship-breaking yard, once the largest ship-breaking yard in Asia, has earned infamy because of its poor handling of toxic waste from dismantled ships. Besides, many labourers working without proper safety gear have been killed in industrial accidents
After several months of litigation over the issue of safe disposal of its 12,000 tonnes of asbestos, the Supreme Court had last year permitted the dismantling of the Blue Lady under supervision of a technical committee comprising nominees from the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Gujarat Pollution Control Board, Gujarat Maritime Board and Atomic Energy Regulatory Board.
Sources in the Alang ship-breaking yard said the Blue Lady is being dismantled at present. The ship-breaking industry there, however, is unaware of the arrival of the SS Oceanic for dismantling. Ship Recycling Industries Association secretary AP Oza seemed unfazed by the ship’s arrival.