France offers to take Clemenceau's toxic waste
But environmentalists said the offer made no difference to the risk confronting the ship breakers in India.india Updated: Jan 27, 2006 09:44 IST
France has offered to take back toxic asbestos waste from the Indian shipbreaker charged with dismantling the Clemenceau aircraft carrier, the defence ministry said on Friday.
Dogged for weeks by environmentalists who say the ship's insulation poses an unacceptable risk to Indian demolition workers, the 265-metre vessel transited the Suez Canal early this week.
But the Indian Supreme Court has banned the 24,000-tonne vessel from Indian waters until February 13 when it is due to reach a decision based on consultations with all parties, including Greenpeace and the French government.
"Our ambassador has indicated to the Indian committee of experts that if the Indian authorities demand it, the asbestos waste will be repatriated to France," said defence ministry spokesman Jean-Francois Bureau.
"This question doesn't seem to be resolved, so we have made this proposition to avoid any ambiguity and of course for the return we will obviously apply the Basle convention on the transport of dangerous waste," he said.
But environmentalists said the offer made no difference to the risk confronting the ship breakers at Shree Ram Vessels Scrap in the northwestern province of Gujarat.
The defence ministry says 115 of the 160 tonnes of asbestos on board was removed and that taking the rest would have threatened the ship's structure.
The Clemenceau, decommissioned in 1997 after three decades' service, left the French port of Toulon on December 31 bound for the Suez canal only to be boarded 12 days later in a commando-style operation by two Greenpeace activists.