Toxic Trade News / 22 May 2006
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Global alert to locate SS Norway
by Sharidan M. Ali, The Star Online (Malaysia)
22 May 2006 – Basel Action Network (BAN), a toxic chemical crisis watchdog, has sent out a global alert to look out for the ocean liner SS Norway, which is now considered a floating hazardous waste.

The vessel laden with 1,200-1,300 tonnes of asbestos-contaminated material had reported to Port Klang Marine Department that it was being towed to Dubai for refurbishment but BAN had claimed that it was heading for the ship-breaking yard in Alang, India.

BAN co-ordinator Jim Puckett said the vessel was carrying far more toxic material than the French Aircraft Carrier the Clemenceau, which France had recalled from India in February due to the asbestos.

Unless decontaminated, he said the thousands of tonnes of asbestos would poison ship-breaking workers in nations with less stringent environmental laws and cheap labour.

He said BAN, which is part of a global coalition called NGO Platform on Shipbreaking, said its coalition partners were exerting all efforts to locate the vessel, which was once the largest and most glamorous.

Under its new name, Blue Lady did not show up in Dubai last week and BAN believes it will drop anchor at the infamous ship-breaking beach on the western Gujarat state on May 23.

BAN had earlier warned Malaysia on the likelihood of an illegal export from Malaysia since it was allowed to leave local waters after being anchored off Port Klang for 268 days.

Puckett said they were trying to determine the location of the tugs towing the ship.

“The Malaysian Government has contacted us and requested our assistance to provide information on the legal aspects on the illegal traffic export issue,” he said, adding that nothing conclusive had been achieved yet.

The Department of Environment (DOE) reported that the SS Norway had not violated any local environmental laws and it was allowed to sail.

“SS Norway could still be considered a ship and has not polluted any of the country’s environmental regulations,” said DOE deputy director general (operation) Lee Heng Keng.

He said they were informed by the Marine Department that the ship had fulfilled the shipping documentations and requirements and was allowed to leave for Dubai for repair and refurbishment.

“We were also notified that the owner is a company that is actively involved in the shipping industry,” he said.

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