Illegal Traffic of Toxic Waste Laden Blue Lady
NGO Platform on Shipbreaking - Press Release
6 July 2006 (New Delhi) –
The 'Indian Platform on Ship-breaking' has condemned the entry of the 'SS Blue Lady' (ex SS Norway, SS France) in Indian territorial waters at Gujarat's Pipavav port of Amreli district. Indian Platform on Ship-breaking has called upon authorities to act against Star Cruises Ltd who is the owner of the ship.
Admittedly, there are more than 1,200 metric tonnes of asbestos and unknown quantities of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and other toxic substances in the ship. India does not have the facilities or capacity to deal with asbestos, and has never dealt with PCBs. This is further corroborated by a report entitled "Memo: SS Blue Lady case-Potential hazardous materials and removal options" by Aage Anderson. The Platform has also alerted the German Embassy in India about the illegal export of the SS Blue Lady (aka SS Norway, SS France) to Asia from Bremerhaven, Germany last 23 May 2005.
The Platform deems entry of the ship as a systematic and deliberate violation of Indian, German, EU and International law on trans-boundary movement of hazardous waste by the ship's owner Star Cruise. Star Cruises is one of the world's leading luxury liner company with presence in India as well. The Indian Supreme Court allowed the vessel to anchor off Alang on humanitarian grounds. However, the ship-owners and buyers chose not to use the lenient gesture of the Supreme Court and moved the ship to Dubai through monsoon waters endangering the crew on board.
The Platform has submitted another report entitled "Norwegian Cruise Lines and Star Cruises Ltd: Deceiving Germany and Violating International Laws in the Export of the SS Norway to India" to the Technical Experts committee appointed by the Indian Supreme Court. This report discloses new evidence on how Star Cruises and its subsidiary, Norwegian Cruise Lines, deceived German authorities of their intent to dispose of the vessel in India.
The Platform has appealed to Germany to enforce the law because the decision to scrap the ship was made before the ship left Bremerhaven in Germany. Under EU law and Basel Convention, the ship's export from Germany constitutes an illegal hazardous waste export.
Meanwhile, The International Metalworkers' Federation's (IMF) have recently published findings from a survey of over 1600 workers from the ship breaking industry in India. IMF report said, "The rate of injury is 50 workers per day and sometime workers die due to inadequate or lack of medical facility. Report of casualty is seldom made. It further says, "The service and working conditions are very much exploitative and poor. The workers have no specific training on handling the hazardous toxic material and they are ignorant of its ill effects" amid "absence of labour legislations."
"These workers are among the most vulnerable workers in our sectors, constantly migrating in search of seasonal jobs in the shipyards, subject to ruthless employers who are callous about their occupational health and safety and totally ignored by the political authorities," said P K Ganguly of CITU. He added, "workers in Alang face daily exploitation and exposure to life-threatening hazards due to the inability of the government to establish and enforce standards."
The entry of the ship is highly irregular, considering that the Government has not insisted on Court-mandated paperwork for such imports. The Technical Committee admits that no comprehensive inventory of toxic substances is available, and the quantity of PCB-contaminated material is not known. There is no documentation to prove that Haryana Ship Demolitions has even purchased the ship. No mention is made of the fact that the Government of Bangladesh rejected the ship on environmental grounds. The ship owner and ship breaker have misled the Supreme Court of India by providing wrong information to a Technical Committee set up by the Court in February 2006. The ship owner sought permission for anchoring off Alang citing "difficulties due to monsoon storm" after having timed the ship's departure to coincide with monsoons after an 8-month wait in Malaysia.
"The Supreme Court's Technical Committee's recommendations allowing Blue Lady to enter into India on 5th June, 2006 were made without hearing the petitioner, without adequate information or the legally mandated paperwork, and in violation of the Supreme Court's own order of October 2003 which seeks prior decontamination and an inventory of hazardous wastes on board," said Gopal Krishna of Indian Platform on Ship-breaking.
"Blue Lady arrived in Indian waters on 30th June, 2006 with a sordid history riddled with lies, corruption and systematic abuse of International and Indian laws," said Madhumitta Dutta of Corporate Accountability Desk.
Platform's global counterpart has formally requested the German parliament, the Ministry of Environment, European Commission, German Basel Focal Point, and the Human Rights Special Rapporteur on Toxic Waste Dumping for urgent action with regard to Blue Lady.
For more information:
Gopal Krishna, Indian Platform on Ship breaking, email@example.com, 9818089660
Ramapati Kumar, Greenpeace, firstname.lastname@example.org, 09845535414
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