Toxic Trade News / 31 January 2006
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French Deception: Clemenceau likely to contain cancer-causing PCBs
BAN Press Release
31 January 2006 (New Delhi, Seattle) – Besides asbestos, the French aircraft carrier Clemenceau is likely to contain around 700 tonnes of structural materials contaminated with the globally banned and cancer-causing chemicals known as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), according to Basel Action Network (BAN), Greenpeace, the Corporate Accountability Desk and Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI).

PCBs are far more difficult and expensive to remove than asbestos. India has no facility or capacity for handling the highly toxic PCBs, nor the destruction technology required under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)- a UN treaty. PCBs are slotted for global phase-out under the Stockholm Convention. Both India and France have ratified the treaty. But the Indian Government does not have the political will to ensure that such toxins are dealt with without harming workers and the environment. No tests have been conducted till date to measure PCBs arising from shipbreaking in Alang. PCBs are persistent in the environment, and tend to bioaccumulate and biomagnify through the food chain. They are known as POPs, and are implicated in a variety of health problems including sexual dysfunction, cancer, and endocrine system disruption.

“Even if France’s claim that the Clemenceau is not hazardous waste and therefore does not fall under the Basel Convention were true, their export of PCBs to India would be a clear violation of the Stockholm Convention,” says Ramapati Kumar of Greepeace.

“The French are lying about the asbestos and using it as a smoke-screen to hide the several hundred tonnes of PCBs and other toxics onboard the Clemenceau,” said Madhumita Dutta of Corporate Accountability Desk. “Unfortunately, the Supreme Court Monitoring Committee has not shown much intelligence in dealing with this issue and does not seem to have insisted on independent third-party inventory of all toxics on board.”

“The chance that the Clemenceau contains no PCBs as claimed by France is almost nil,” said Jim Puckett, of BAN, the global watchdog group that two years ago sued the US government for exporting former US naval vessels laden with PCBs. “While the world rages about asbestos and the French agree to address this, they appear to be deliberately misleading the world by failing to test, quantify or even mention a word about solid PCBs onboard.”

In a statement to both the Egyptian and Indian governments the French have stated that no PCBs are on board because there are no wet transformers. But according to the United States’ Environment Protection Agency, the vast majority of PCBs on board ex-naval vessels is not contained in transformers, but in paints, gaskets, insulation and other wiring.

“As per International Labour Organisation (ILO) the identifiable hazards associated with ship-breaking harmful Factors in Ship Scrapping include asbestos, PCBs, Lead, Chromates, Mercury, Organic liquids like Benzene among others,” says Gopal Krishna of BANI.

In a short paper entitled “The French Deception: PCBs and the Clemenceau” issued, BAN outlines the kinds of materials which will contain PCBs on the Clemenceau and has extrapolated the amount of PCB contaminated material from a similar US Aircraft Carrier known as the ex-USS Oriskany estimating that the Clemenceau contains between 744 and 823 tonnes of PCB waste above the regulatory action level of 50 parts per million.



For more information contact:

Jim Puckett, BAN: Phone: office: +1.206.652.5555, cell: +1.206.354.0391,
Madhumitta Dutta, Corporate Accountability Desk, Ph: 91-11-26105472,
Ramapati Kumar, Greenpeace, Mb: 09845535414,
Gopal Krishna, BANI, Mb: 9818089660,

For a summary of violations of the Clemenceau export:

Download complete report: The French Deception: PCBs and the Clemenceau - from

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