Toxic Trade News / 20 October 2010
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BAN Media Release

Photo by Arjan Elmendorp
as published in
20 October 2010 (Mexico) – The Basel Action Network (BAN), a toxic trade watchdog and member organization of the NGO Platform on Shipbreaking, warned the Government of Mexico in a letter(1) released today, that they have learned from sources in Mexico(2) that three Mexican flagged tankers called the Sebastian Lerdo de Tejada, Tolteca, and Independencia, all owned and operated by Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex), Mexico’s state-owned oil company, may very soon be exported from Mexico to shipbreaking yards in Pakistan, Bangladesh, India or China in contravention to the United Nations Basel Convention and Mexican law. Pemex has signaled that they intend to sell the vessels for scrap in the international market to the highest bidder later this week.

The vast majority of such sales end up in primitive, dangerous and environmentally damaging operations in South Asia, with most oil and gas tankers going to the shipbreaking yards of Bangladesh due to the lax regulations there for controlling explosions from oily and gas residues.

The ships are suspected of containing high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), asbestos and other hazardous wastes within their construction. Thus, under the rules of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, to which Mexico is Party, these ships are defined as hazardous waste and must follow strict rules governing their trade in international commerce.

Mexico has implemented the Basel Ban Amendment which only permits the export of hazardous wastes to OECD countries, EU countries and Liechtenstein. Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and China are non-OECD and therefore cannot legally receive these vessels as waste from Mexico for any reason unless they are first decontaminated of all toxic materials. Alternatively, the ships can be recycled safely in a proper facility in Mexico, the U.S. or another OECD or EU country.

"BAN calls on the Mexican Government to uphold the principles of the Basel Convention and block the illegal export of these toxic vessels. Pemex, a state-owned oil conglomerate, may not even as yet be aware of the international legal and moral ramifications of this pending sale,” said Colby Self, Green Ship Recycling Campaign Director for the Basel Action Network. “Now that they have been warned, we fully expect them to do the right thing.”

The Government of Mexico has full jurisdiction over the vessels of concern now laid up in the port of Lázaro Cárdenas, Mexico and must take appropriate action to prevent a sale that would involve the export of hazardous waste. They must fully test the vessels for a range of toxic substances, and, if found, they must stipulate that the ships can only be recycled in the most environmentally sound manner in a developed country.

For more information, contact:

Mr. Colby Self, Green Ship Recycling Campaign Director, BAN, email:, phone: +1 (206) 250-5652

(1) Available at
(2) Available at

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