France recalls toxic Clemenceau
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France recalls toxic Clemenceau

The decision came after France's highest court ordered Paris to suspend the transfer of asbestos-lined warship.

india Updated: Feb 15, 2006 23:25 IST

President Jacques Chirac ordered a decommissioned aircraft carrier laden with toxic materials to return to France on Wednesday, after
the country's top administrative court suspended its transfer to India for disposal.

Chirac's decision was a victory for environmentalists who had assailed the order to send the asbestos-carrying Clemenceau to India, where it was to be broken up.

The fate of the Clemenceau, once a symbol of French naval prowess, has embarrassed the government before Chirac leaves on Thursday on a five-day trip to Thailand and India.

France had argued that it had few choices on what to do with the hulking 26,700-ton vessel, with Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie saying that there were no suitable scrap yards in Europe.

Chirac said he hoped the European Union would consider strengthening Europe's capacity to dispose of pollution, and that leaders worldwide would accelerate efforts to improve international rules about waste disposal.

He also ordered further tests to determine exactly how much asbestos is aboard once it returns to France.

"The government will now examine ways of reforming France's policy on exporting waste materials. It will also create a panel of ministers to study how to manage maritime wreckage with partner countries," Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin's office said in a statement.

"This is a victory for international law, a victory for Indian workers, and a victory for workers all across Asia," Greenpeace France director Pascal Husting said.

First Published: Feb 15, 2006 19:03 IST