Toxic Trade News / 15 February 2006
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Protests as Bangladeshi buys asbestos laden ship
by ZeeNews International Edition
15 February 2006 (Chittagong) – Bangladeshi scrap merchant said today he had bought a famed ocean liner crammed with asbestos for 12 million dollars, sparking protests from environmentalists and a warning from the government it will not allow the vessel to be broken up here.

"I have finalised the deal (for the SS Norway) but I have not yet made the payment because of a dollar crisis in the local market," said Haji Lokman Hossain, owner of a scrapyard near Chittagong in southern Bangladesh.

"If I can buy the ship, I will take measures to destroy all hazardous materials and toxic gas," he added.

News of the deal prompted dozens of environmentalists to form a human chain in Chittagong to protest the move to dismantle the ship at Hossain's Giri Subedar Ship Breaking Yard at Nerby Sitakundu.

Gloabl environmental group Greenpeace has included the SS Norway on a watchlist of 50 vessels, which it fears will not be decontaminated before being scrapped. It says the French workers who built the ship claim it contains 1,250 tonnes of material that contains asbestos.

The Bangladesh Environment Lawyers Association on Wednesday served legal notices in the capital Dhaka on relevant government agencies in a bid to halt the ship being brought into Bangladesh's territorial waters.

"We served the legal notice after the documents that we've collected indicate that the Giri Ship Breaking Company has bought the ship and it is now on its way to the company's scrap yard," lawyer Rizwana Hasan said.

The government has already said it will not allow the ship to be broken up in Bangladesh as it might cause loss of life and environmental damage.

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