Toxic Trade News / 19 January 2006
< Previous Page
Clemenceau Likely to Contain Hundreds of Tonnes of Toxic PCBs
BAN Press Release

19 January 2006 (Seattle, WA., Delhi, India.) – According to a US based global toxic trade watchdog organization, in addition to an undetermined amount of asbestos the French aircraft Carrier being exported to India for breaking is likely to contain hundreds of tonnes of a banned chemical compound known as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The Basel Action Network, which in 2003 filed a lawsuit to halt the United States from exporting PCB containing hazardous ex-naval vessels of the US ghost fleet, claim that the Clemenceau, like all US naval vessels built in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s, is almost certain to be carrying hundreds of tonnes of the dangerous chemical.

The French Government has claimed that they have made sure that the electrical transformers on board do not contain liquid PCBs from the Clemenceau, but they have remained absolutely mute on just how much solid matrix PCBs are on the vessel in the construction materials such as paints, gaskets, insulation, and wiring that make up the ship that contain PCBs. It is believed that they have never even tested for them. Nevertheless in a communiqué last week to Egypt they claimed the ship contained no PCBs.

“The chance that the Clemenceau, contains no PCBs is almost nil,” said BAN coordinator Jim Puckett. “PCBs are even more expensive to remove from these ships, than asbestos. And naval ships of this vintage contain massive amounts of PCBs. Just as they have lied about the quantities of asbestos, France appears to be deliberately misleading the world by failing to test and quantify the solid PCBs onboard.”

BAN noted that in the US authorities have yet to find an ex-naval vessel built before 1970 that is PCB free. PCBs were manufactured by Monsanto in the US and by Rhone-Poulenc in France for many years, very commonly used in a wide variety of products and were finally banned from production around 1976. A US Environmental Protection Agency report on the US aircraft carrier Ex-Oriskany built in 1950, reveals that the vessel contains 795 tonnes of PCBs in solid matrix form and in concentrations far above the regulatory threshold of 50 parts per million.

PCB are very persistent, cancer causing chemicals in a class known as persistent organic pollutants or (POPs). They are dangerous in both solid and liquid form. They have been banned from production in all areas of the world and are currently being subjected to a global phase-out as one of the 12 worst POPs. In 2002, a new treaty known as the Stockholm Convention was adopted to eliminate these chemicals from the face of the earth and to ensure that they are destroyed by only using the most sophisticated destruction technology. India does not possess such technology and the ship-breaking yards in Alang have no capacity for dealing with PCBs at all. France has ratified the Stockholm Treaty, India has signed it.

“If France were to export even one tonne of PCBs to India for any reason in barrels, the Ministry of Environment and Forests would deny the import and Indians everywhere would be outraged.” said Ravi Agarwal of ToxicsLink in Delhi. “But if hundreds of tonnes of PCBs are imported as part of a ship and going to a shipbreaking operation, our Minister suddenly does back flips to appease the shipbreaking industry in Gujarat. Such hypocrisy can no longer stand.”



For more information contact:
Jim Puckett, BAN: Phone: office: +1.206.652.5555, cell: +1.206.354.0391, <>
Ravi Agarwal, ToxicsLink: office: +91-22-39446733, <>

For a summary of violations of the Clemenceau export:

FAIR USE NOTICE. This document contains copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. The Basel Action Network is making this article available in our efforts to advance understanding of ecological sustainability and environmental justice issues. We believe that this constitutes a 'fair use' of the copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

More News
< Previous Page Return to Top
©2011 Basel Action Network (BAN). All Rights Reserved. – Phone: 206-652-5555 | FAX: 206-652-5750

Select images courtesy of Chris Jordan