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French ship faces green protest in Britain, after India

world Updated: Jan 29, 2009 15:23 IST

AFP
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Local green campaigners in Britain are protesting the imminent arrival of an asbestos-tainted French aircraft carrier in Hartlepool, where it is to be dismantled after being rejected by India.

But others argue the task of taking apart the Clemenceau will provide much-needed work, at a time when jobs are being cut across the country due to the global slowdown.

The ageing carrier, a former flagship of the French navy now known simply as "hull Q790," could be towed within the next week to Hartlepool, northeastern England, where British ship breakers Able UK plan to finally dismantle it.

The vessel is waiting for calmer weather to make its final journey from Brest, northwestern France, where it has been since an embarrassing 18,000 km journey to western India in 2006.

The saga may not be over. Green group Friends of Hartlepool is still hoping to mount an eleventh-hour effort to sink the plans.

The group has failed to secure a legal ruling preventing the Clemenceau's transfer to Hartlepool, but its lawyers are examining whether an appeal can be filed under laws regulating the export of toxic waste.

Their opposition stems from the fact that the vessel contains around 700 tonnes of materials contaminated by asbestos, a highly carcinogenic substance.

"We don't want the Clemenceau," said 70-year-old Jean Kennedy of Friends of Hartlepool, which has received 15,000 signatures to a petition against Able UK.