Chirac calls ship home
by Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times (India)
15 February 2006 (New Delhi) –
Three days before his visit to India, French President Jacques Chirac ordered 'toxic' ship Clemenceau to return to France.
Chirac's recall came on Wednesday after the Council of State - France's highest court on administrative matters - suspended the decommissioned ship's transfer to India for disposal and instructed a lower court to review the case.
The French president has also ordered an independent inquiry into the exact quantity of asbestos in the ship and other related issues. "The president has decided to put this ship in French waters on a position of standby which offers all security guarantees until a definitive solution for its dismantling is found," said a statement released by Chirac's office.
It was the quantity of asbestos in the ship that had led to an uproar from environmentalists. Greenpeace had claimed the ship had 500 tonnes of asbestos, which could be harmful for the workers at the Alang dismantling yard in Gujarat.
The French government had said there was just 45 tonnes of asbestos left in the ship.
France will ask the European Commission for better ship dismantling facilities so that it does not have to look to far-off places like Alang.
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