French row over 'toxic' ship
by Daily Ireland (UK)
17 February 2006 –
A mayor in western France expressed frustration with the government's decision to station a decommissioned French aircraft carrier laden with toxic materials in his city's port.
The asbestos-carrying Clemenceau had been en route to India to be dismantled when Chirac ordered it to return to France's western port of Brest yesterday.
Environmentalists have criticised the ship as hazardous and hailed Chirac's decision as a victory for their campaign.
Brest Mayor Francois Cuillandre, a socialist, criticised the conservative government's decision, saying there was no company in town capable of dismantling the ship. He also asked why it was heading to Brest, where it was built, when its home base had long been the southern city of Toulon.
“The question I'm asking myself is, for how long (will it stay)?" the socialist mayor said on RTL radio. “What I don't want is for the ship to be stranded in Brest for as long as it was stranded in Toulon."
The ship, once the pride of France's naval fleet, spent five years in Toulon's port after it was decommissioned.
The fate of the Clemenceau has embarrassed French officials and underlined the trouble many countries face in getting rid of old vessels.
Environment minister, Nelly Olin, said yesterday that France should not be ashamed of how it handled the case.
“This is a difficult and delicate affair, and people should not launch a bitter attack on France because of it,” she said.
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