Toxic Trade News / 10 May 2006
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New 'toxic' ship bound for India
10 May 2006 (New Delhi, India) – A former passenger liner laden with asbestos is headed for India to be broken up for scrap, Greenpeace has warned, just months after it started an environmental row over the French warship Clemenceau.

Greenpeace said that the ship could be even more toxic than the Clemenceau, which the French government recalled in February after plans to scrap it in India sparked controversy.

It was expected to reach Indian territorial waters between May 20 and May 23 and would be dismantled in western India at the Alang ship-breaking yard, Greenpeace spokesman Ramapati Kumar said.

The ship contained more than 900 tones of asbestos and other cancer-causing materials such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and heavy metals, he said.

However, Girish Luthra, chairman of Gujarat Environment Protection and Infrastructure, a private firm which would be involved in any clean up work, said breaking up the liner would bring 2,000 badly needed jobs to the yard.

France ordered the Clemenceau home after India's Supreme Court barred it from entering its territorial waters over pollution fears. The French government said it contained 45 tones of asbestos while the company, which helped in its initial decontamination, said the figure was nearer 500 to 1,000 tones.

The fate of the 315-metre (1,035-foot) vessel, the last purpose-built ocean liner ever made, has been the topic of speculation since it suffered a 2003 boiler explosion in Miami that killed eight crewmembers.

Greenpeace estimated a sale price of $17 million based on a 46,000-deadweight tonnage. Greenpeace says one in four workers in Alang could expect to contract cancer from workplace poisons. Many have died on the job from exploding gases and falling steel plates and other objects due to negligent enforcement of safety rules.

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