Toxic Trade News / 4 January 2006
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Toxic ship may be allowed into India
by (India)
4 January 2006 (Gandhinagar) – Indian authorities are claiming that the entry of decommissioned French aircraft carrier Clemenceau is legal.

The 24,000 tonne ship is insulated by carcinogenic asbestos, and the ship has been turned back by Greece and Italy due to the toxic asbestos.

However, both the French and Indian governments argue that while the ship is afloat, it is not a toxic waste.

"It does not matter if there is 10 or 15 or 20 tonnes of asbestos, if it is part of the structure of the ship then it is not illegal. Also it does not go against international or Indian law," said Pradipto Ghosh, Environment Secretary.

Safe option

Even the Gujarat authorities seem to be in favour of permitting the ship into India. Based on documents from French authorities, the Gujarat Maritime Board now says its safe for the ship to be broken at Alang.

"If asbestos in embedded form in pipes and insulating materials --this would be decontaminated here under the supervision of GPCB and other government agencies," says HK Dash, CEO and Vice Chairman, GMB.

However, environmentalists warn that France is breaking the Basel convention by exporting so much toxic waste.

So why is India keen on getting the ship even though environmentalists say its a toxic hazard?

The answer is that it's big business. With India introducing tighter environmental controls, Alang has been losing out to Bangladesh and China.

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