France ready to detox Clemenceau
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France ready to detox Clemenceau

The French envoy says his country is willing to take back any asbestos found on the decommissioned warship.

india Updated: Feb 09, 2006 04:01 IST

The French envoy on Wednesday asserted his country was willing to take back any asbestos found on decommissioned warship Celemenceau while it is scrapped at the ship-breaking yard in this coastal town of Gujarat.

Ambassador Dominique Girard also inspected the ship-breaking yard and said it was capable of scrapping the Clemenceau, at the centre of a controversy over claims by environmental activists that it contains up to 500 tonnes of asbestos.

Girard said the aircraft carrier had only 45 tonnes of asbestos after being decontaminated in France.

"If more asbestos is found, we are ready to take it back. And there is no cut-off line for it," he told reporters at Alang, about 230 km from state capital Gandhinagar.

"There are adequate facilities (at the ship-breaking yard) to break the ship and dispose off the material. If required, we will train people for it," he said.

Along with a team of eight officials, Girard observed the yard and had a look at the working conditions and the landfill site in Alang.

The ship, which left France last month, has been facing protests from environmental and human rights activists and Indian trade unions, who claim it contains over 500 tonnes of hazardous wastes that would expose workers at the ship-breaking yard to risk.

Girard, however, said: "Asbestos is not an issue. Dismantling and disposing off asbestos is a real concern. The French government took the decision to send the ship to India after going through all due procedures of the Indian government in March 2005."

Details about the ship's inventory, he said, would Thursday be handed over to the monitoring committee that advises the Supreme Court in dealing with hazardous wastes. The apex court will next hear the case related to the Clemenceau Feb 13.

Meanwhile, Mukesh Patel, the ship-breaker who purchased the Clemenceau, said his yard was fully capable of dismantling it.

"The biggest ship we broke was of 31,200 metric tonnes whereas Clemenceau is only 26,000 metric tonnes," he said.

Alang, established in 1982, was once the biggest ship-breaking yard in Asia before it fell on hard times due to increasing competition.

First Published: Feb 08, 2006 11:00 IST