French warship Clemenceau leaves Toulon for dismantling in India
by People's Daily Online (China)
1 January 2006 – French decommissioned aircraft carrier Clemenceau on Saturday left the country's Toulon naval base for India where it will be dismantled.
The Clemenceau undocked with boats setting up a 200-meter security cordon as a helicopter and a navy plane provided air cover, French news channel TF1 reported.
Officials said the decommissioned carrier would be taken out of the harbor by several tugs before being towed to the Alang naval yard, in northwestern India, the world's biggest ship-breaking yard, said the report, adding that it was expected to arrive in India in two months' time.
The Paris administrative court gave greenlight Friday to the Clemenceau's departure for its dismantling in India, by rejecting some French ecologist and anti-asbestos groups' petition saying that the Indian shipyard workers are not properly protected from the hazards of working with asbestos, which can cause a form of lung cancer.
Greenpeace and other three anti-asbestos groups said in a report earlier this month that countries which send ships for scrapping in India and other developing countries in Asia are overlooking a system that claims thousands of workers' lives each year and that almost half of the world's ships end up in India for dismantling after their sailing lives terminates.
They estimated that around 100 tons of asbestos remain inside the Clemenceau.
But Paris says that the aircraft-carrier, although decommissioned, is a warship and so not bound by the Basel Convention of 1989 on the international shipment of dangerous waste.
Greenpeace on Saturday condemned the transfer as a "cynical" violation of international treaties on the movement of dangerous waste.
"Once again, the problem of dismantling defunct ships has illustrated the division of labour between the north and the south, which remains the dustbin for North America and Europe," said Annie Thebaut-Mony in a joint statement issued by Greenpeace and the Ban Asbestos pressure group.
The aircraft carrier, which took part in the 1991 Gulf War, was replaced by the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle.
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