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French ship detained en route to India

Egyptian Govt has sought details about Clemenceau, the decommissioned warship carrying hazardous wastes.

india Updated: Jan 12, 2006 23:45 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

Greenepace activists on Thursday intercepted and boarded the decommissioned French warship Clemenceau in a bid to prevent its journey to India as the Egyptian government sought details about the vessel before allowing it to sail through the Suez Canal.

The aircraft carrier is bound for Alang in Gujarat, where it is to be broken up. But groups like Greenpeace say it is carrying large amounts of asbestos and other hazardous materials that pose a serious threat to the environment.

"At 12.00 hours this morning, two activists boarded the carrier 50 nautical miles from the coast of Egypt in international waters. They are currently on the ship's mast with banners declaring 'ASBESTOS CARRIER: STAY OUT OF INDIA'," a Greenpeace statement said.

The organisation also called on Egypt to refuse the vessel permission to enter the Suez Canal and proceed toward its final destination in India.

In response, the Egyptian government has called for "all certificates required within the framework of the Basel Convention (the international treaty preventing trade in hazardous materials) to approve the ship's passage through Egyptian territorial waters and the Suez Canal", said a Greenpeace statement.

"Greenpeace welcomes the first step taken by the Egyptian government to uphold the Basel Convention in letter and spirit," it said.

A panel that advises India's Supreme Court on the management of hazardous wastes will meet here Jan 20 to take a final decision on whether the warship should be allowed to enter Indian waters.

The Greenpeace statement quoted Jacob Hartmann, one of the two men who boarded the ship, as saying: "The Clemenceau presents an immediate danger to the Indian environment and to the workers at the Alang ship breaking yard.

"There is more than sufficient evidence to establish that the French government has failed to decontaminate the ship, even to the standards they agreed to, let alone to international standards.

"We simply cannot allow the ship to get any closer to its destination. India has spoken, and they do not want this ship," Hartmann said.

The monitoring committee of India's Supreme Court had said Jan 7 that the arrival of the ship in India would violate the Basel Convention.

The panel came to the conclusion after hearing testimony from officials of Technopure, the company originally contracted by the French government to decontaminate the ship, which stated that at least 500 tonnes of asbestos still remained on board.

First Published: Jan 12, 2006 15:57 IST