This group tracks the responses of shipping industry towards environmental health concerns, highlights influence of shipping companies from EU, US and Japan etc on IMO and its Marine Environment Protection Committee & South Asian governments. It is keen to restore beaches in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan to their pristine glory for the coming generations. For more information visit: www.toxicswatch.org, banasbestosindia.blogspot.com

27/10/2009

US GOVERNMENT ACCUSED OF FAILING TO ENFORCE TOXIC EXPORT BAN

Action Shifts To US

Meanwhile, BAN has learned that the Maritime Administration (MARAD) aided and abetted the escape of the ship to a foreign jurisdiction by approving the sale of the vessel to a foreign buyer while the EPA was taking legal action against the owners. MARAD sent a letter to GSL in June 2008 offering support for the foreign transfer of the ship to Platinum Investment Services Corp. based in Monrovia, Liberia. Platinum Investment Services appears to be a “mailbox company”: under Liberian law, a company may register without publicly revealing an address, any principle owners, board members or spokespersons of any kind. The company has no office, no website and has no known history of ship operations. It is likely that MARAD’s authorization of the sale of the ship hampered the EPA’s own legal efforts to demand the ship be returned for proper testing and remediation.


The worst fears of environmentalists and human rights acitvists have been confirmed as it has been discovered this month that an aging American ocean liner, the SS Oceanic (formerly SS Independence), one believed to contain significant quantities of asbestos and toxic PCB chemicals in its structure, has now arrived at the infamous Alang, India shipbreaking yards[1] with a new name – Platinum II. The ship will be scrapped in contravention of US and international law unless government action on the part of US or Indian authorities is taken as a matter of urgency.

The Oceanic made headlines in 2008 when its former owners, Global Shipping LLC (GSL) and Global Marketing Systems Inc. (GMS) (both of Maryland and part of the Mr. Anil Sharma family’s shipbreaking, cashbuying and brokerage interests), were charged by the US government with illegal export of PCBs for disposal and use in commerce under the Toxics Substances Control Act (TSCA)[2]. The EPA acted after the Basel Action Network (BAN) warned that the ship was likely to be carrying PCBs and was known to be headed for the scrapping beaches of South Asia. To avoid a court case to contest this charge, the former owners paid over one half million dollars as a settlement[3]. After EPA pressed charges, the owners denied that the ship was going to be sent for breaking on the beaches of South Asia as the EPA and environmental groups feared and instead claimed it was to be reused as a ship by its new owners.

“US law exists to protect other countries from the scourge of toxic PCBs, and yet we continually fail to diligently enforce these laws,” said Mr. Jim Puckett, Executive Director of BAN, a member organization of the global NGO Platform on Shipbreaking. “It is clear now that the government made a terrible mistake in letting this ship sail away. It is now incumbent on the administration to do everything in its power to require India to repatriate the ship for proper toxic waste management as the law requires.”

Meanwhile, BAN has learned that the Maritime Administration (MARAD) aided and abetted the escape of the ship to a foreign jurisdiction by approving the sale of the vessel to a foreign buyer while the EPA was taking legal action against the owners. MARAD sent a letter to GSL in June 2008 offering support for the foreign transfer of the ship to Platinum Investment Services Corp. based in Monrovia, Liberia. Platinum Investment Services appears to be a “mailbox company”: under Liberian law, a company may register without publicly revealing an address, any principle owners, board members or spokespersons of any kind. The company has no office, no website and has no known history of ship operations. It is likely that MARAD’s authorization of the sale of the ship hampered the EPA’s own legal efforts to demand the ship be returned for proper testing and remediation.

In India, the ship’s arrival violates the Basel Convention to which India is a Party. Under that United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) treaty, India is not allowed to receive hazardous waste from the United States. Nor can it receive hazardous waste from any foreign source without prior notification of arrival and consent from the Indian government. No such notification or consent was provided in advance of the sudden arrival of the toxic ship. Further, the ship's arrival violated the Supreme Court of India’s order of 14th October 2003 and 6th September 2007, which calls for the pre-cleaning of ships of all toxic substances prior to importation.

The incident is reminiscent of the infamous export of the French Aircraft Carrier Le Clemenceau, which in 2006 was exported to India for breaking from France. French courts finally realized the export was a violation of the Basel Convention and demanded the return of the ship.

“The Oceanic's arrival off the Gujarat beaches makes India an international crime scene, with the Maritime Administration abetting such crimes,” said Mr. Puckett. “The last time something like this happened, the authorities of the exporting country called the ship back and took responsibility. We are calling on the authorities of India and the US to do nothing less.”

The Platinum II now rests at anchorage off Gopnath point approximately 40 nautical miles from the Alang coast while Indian state authorities decide her fate. GMS denies any ownership of the vessel or of the mystery firm Platinum Investment Services Corp. However, the vessel is slated for breaking at the Leela Ship Recycling plot in Alang, which is owned by Komal Sharma, brother to Anil Sharma, owner of GMS.


For more information contact:

Mr. Jim Puckett of Basel Action Network, 206.652-5555, jpuckett@ban.org


[1] Ship-breaking on Alang Beach is well known for its occupational hazards as workers in the scrapping operations are exposed daily to deadly hazards such as asbestos, PCBs, toxic paints, and residual fuels. Death by fire, steel crushing, and cancer are all too common. The Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) acknowledges 372 reported deaths from 1983 to 2004 at Alang, however Greenpeace and the International Federation of Human Rights suggest actual death rates are more than twice that at 50-60 deaths per year. See: http://bellaciao.org/en/spip.php?article19169 and http://www.indianexpress.com/news/fatal-accidents-continue-to-haunt-alang-shipbreaking-yard/476111/0

[2] In February 2008, the SS Oceanic quietly departed from San Francisco Bay under tow and in breach of the U.S. Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). In January 2009, nearly one full year after its illegal departure, the EPA settled with owners, Global Shipping LLC (GSL) and Global Marketing Systems, Inc. (GMS), for illegal export of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which exist within the construction of the vessel. GMS and GSL were ordered to pay $518,500 in U.S. court as part of the settlement.

[3] See copy of settlement: http://www.ban.org/Library/Global_CAFO.pdf

23/10/2009

Letter to US Govt on Convicted Toxic Ship


To

Mr Paul A. Folmsbee
U.S. Consulate General, Mumbai
Lincoln House
78 Bhulabhai Desai Road
Mumbai 400 026
India

U.S. Embassy
Shantipath, Chanakyapuri
New Delhi - 110021

10 October, 2009

Sub: Illegal entry of convicted toxic US ship in Indian waters

Dear Sir,

On behalf on Indian Platform on Shipbreaking, I would like to bring to your attention the entry of the SS Oceanic (now named PLATINUM II), a convicted US ship in the Indian waters violating the US law under which it is illegal to export the highly toxic banned substance for any reason. The entry of this ship is manifestly illegal. It is reliably learnt that the name of the ship has again been changed. The new name of the ship has not been made public. The matter regarding
this ship has been brough to the notice of the US authorties by Basel Action Network, a US based NGO as well.

I have received information that a dummy company has been created and registered in Liberia and a MOU has been signed between this dummy company and the Haryana Shipbreaking Ltd. US authorities can ascertain from the Indian Customs and all the port authorities should verify whether the port of registry is genuine or fake. It is a case of fabrication of documents to bypass the USEPA order wherein it was never mentioned that the ship is being sent to a dummy company.

As of October 10, 2009 according to the information received from very reliable sources, the ship was due to get beached in the Plot No. B-5 of Rajeev Reniwal, Haryana Ship Breakers Ltd, in Alang, Bhavnagar, Gujarat. Right now the ship is in the Bhavnagar anchorage point, Gujarat. The ship was under tow. Indian government has submitted to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) that a ship under tow should be under go pre-cleaning and the Indian Supreme Court has also sought prior decontamination of such ships in the country of export.

The ship should be sent back to US in the same way as was done in the case of Le Clemenceau. The US authorities must act before the ship is handed over to Rajiv Reniwal, the owner of Haryana Ship Breakers Ltd by Anil Sharma, the current owner of ship. Reniwal is the same owner who brought before the Supreme Court the matter of the SS Blue Lady (SS Norway) ship which contained toxic substances.

Anchorage permission was granted after Desk review wherein Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB), Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) and Customs gave the clearance on 8th October, 2009. The hand over of the ship is likely to take place on either 11th October or 12th October. Once again in order to present a fait accompli the GMB is conniving with Anil Sharma and it is being said that Platinum-2 has collided with another vessel Amira S' ship. A tug named Barracuda-1 was involved the ship being pulled.

Earlier, two Maryland companies involved with SS Oceanic (now named PLATINUM II), were made by US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) to pay the US federal government more than $518,000 as a penalty for having illegally sent this old ocean liner containing toxic PCBs overseas for disposal and shipbreaking. The companies in question were Cumberland-based Global Shipping LLC and an affiliate, Global Marketing Systems Inc.

The shipbreaking operations endanger workers and the immediate environment by failing to manage asbestos, PCBs, toxic paints, and residual fuels. The ship is an international fugitive vessel. This 682 foot ocean liner is loaded with an estimated 210 tons of toxic polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contaminated material and an estimated 250 tons of asbestos as part of its construction.

On 29 January, 2009 after a U.S company Global Marketing Systems, Inc. (GMS) involved in sending hundreds of ships to the infamous shipbreaking beaches of Bangladesh and India was forced to pay the penalty and certify that they would not undertake such actions again.

We demand that the US government take action to have the ship returned to a US port, the USEPA had claimed they lacked the authority to have the ship recalled. The USEPA took legal action against GMS for violations of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the law which prohibits the exportation of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), a persistent toxic pollutant used in the paints, insulation and gasketry in older ships.

After the order of USEPA convicting the owners of Platinum (SS Independence) based on the application of Basel Action Network (BAN), a US based NGO had said warning the authorities for unscrupulous operators to exploit loopholes to export very toxic US ships to the beaches like Alang, Gujrat. Its suspicion has been proven right. BAN is a member organization of the Platform on Shipbreaking, an international coalition seeking to ban beaching and unsustainable ship
scrapping. In February 2008, the USEPA was tipped off when they discovered that Global Marketing Systems, Inc. (GMS), headed up by a world famous cash-buyer of obsolete ships, Anil Sharma, had taken ownership of the SS Oceanic (now renamed Platinum II) and had the old passenger liner towed out of San Francisco Bay with the intent of scrapping the vessel on the beaches in South Asia.

It is high time SS Oceanic (now renamed Platinum II) is recalled by the US government. This act of trade in hazardous ships entails a “knowing and willful” criminal violation, and they could find
themselves behind bars.” US government agencies have so far ignored each other’s rules and continue to facilitate ship dealers being able to circumvent toxics laws such as TSCA by their actions or inaction.

US Maritime Administration (MARAD) must stop such instances of change the flag of a ship from a U.S. flag to a “flag of convenience” and then make the transaction and export.

Soon after US EPA initiated its enforcement action against Global and its sister organization Global Shipping LLC, GMS had requested a new application to the Maritime Administration seeking approval to sell the vessel but changing the purpose of export from disposal to continued use of the vessel. The US authorities could have pre-empted this illegal traffic of the ship.

Import of a toxic ship from the US (a non-Party to UN treaty on hazardous wastes-Basel Convention), for full or partial dismantling by a country that is a Party to the Basel Convention is a violation of the terms of the treaty. However, as was the case with the last NCL
ocean liner that needed to be disposed of -- the SS Norway (SS Blue Lady), by the time it is rammed up onto the beaches at Alang, India, it may be too late to seek legal recourse.

Ships-for-scrap, unless decontaminated, are hazardous wastes by virtue of the fact that most, if not all, ships contain a range of hazardous material in their structure. Clearly, the motivation of the US to export the ships without decontamination is meant to avoid the decontamination cost, monumental environmental and labour safety costs that will have to be borne if the scrapping is attempted to be done in line with the existing regulations in the US.

We have been following the deliberations in the US about the option of disposing more than 300 old ships without prior decontamination in the South Asian shipbreaking yards like the one at Alang beach. But the then US vice president Al Gore had placed a moratorium on the sale of US Government-owned ships-for-scrap to foreign yards after Indian trade unions and environmental organisations had protested outside the US embassy in New Delhi in January 1998.

Furthermore, such an export is illegal under US and international law and it violates Indian Supreme Court’s ruling prohibiting the import of hazardous wastes. We are strongly opposed to any proposal that will export the liabilities associated with the toxic US ships-for-scrap to
India.

We demand that the US Government recall Platinum II (SS Oceanic) and withdraw any proposal it may have to export its toxic ships-for-scrap to India for breaking, and work towards a program that will safely dismantle these ships in the US.

I would be glad to share more details.

Yours Sincerely
Gopal Krishna
Indian Platform on Shipbreaking
New Delhi
Mb: 9818089660
E-mail: krishnagreen@gmail.com

CC/
US Maritime Administration (MARAD)
USEPA
Focal Point, Basel Convention, India

Copies of the letter has also been sent to Indian ministries of environment, steel and shipping.

P.S: Given below is the latest Press Release of Basel Action Network, www.ban.org, the US based NGO that was instrumental in t he conviction of this toxic US ship.

US Government Accused of Dumping Toxic Waste in India

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

TOXIC U.S. SHIP LANDS IN INDIA

US GOVERNMENT ACCUSED OF FAILING TO ENFORCE TOXIC EXPORT BAN

22 October 2009 (Seattle, WA) –The worst fears of environmentalists and human rights acitvists have been confirmed as it has been discovered this month that an aging American ocean liner, the SS Oceanic (formerly SS Independence), one believed to contain significant quantities of asbestos and toxic PCB chemicals in its structure, has now arrived at the infamous Alang, India shipbreaking yards [1] with a new name – Platinum II. The ship will be scrapped in contravention of US and international law unless government action on the part of US or Indian authorities is taken as a matter of urgency.

The Oceanic made headlines in 2008 when its former owners, Global Shipping LLC (GSL) and Global Marketing Systems Inc. (GMS) (both of Maryland and part of the Mr. Anil Sharma family’s shipbreaking, cashbuying and brokerage interests), were charged by the US government with illegal export of PCBs for disposal and use in commerce under the Toxics Substances Control Act (TSCA)[2]. The EPA acted after the Basel Action Network (BAN) warned that the ship was likely to be carrying PCBs and was known to be headed for the scrapping beaches of South Asia. To avoid a court case to contest this charge, the former owners paid over one half million dollars as a settlement[3]. After EPA pressed charges, the owners denied that the ship was going to be sent for breaking on the beaches of South Asia as the EPA and environmental groups feared and instead claimed it was to be reused as a ship by its new owners.

“US law exists to protect other countries from the scourge of toxic PCBs, and yet we continually fail to diligently enforce these laws,” said Mr. Jim Puckett, Executive Director of BAN, a member organization of the global NGO Platform on Shipbreaking. “It is clear now that the government made a terrible mistake in letting this ship sail away. It is now incumbent on the administration to do everything in its power to require India to repatriate the ship for proper toxic waste management as the law requires.”

Meanwhile, BAN has learned that the Maritime Administration (MARAD) aided and abetted the escape of the ship to a foreign jurisdiction by approving the sale of the vessel to a foreign buyer while the EPA was taking legal action against the owners. MARAD sent a letter to GSL in June 2008 offering support for the foreign transfer of the ship to Platinum Investment Services Corp. based in Monrovia, Liberia. Platinum Investment Services appears to be a “mailbox company:” under Liberian law, a company may register without publicly revealing an address, any principle owners, board members or spokespersons of any kind. The company has no office, no website and has no known history of ship operations. It is likely that MARAD’s authorization of the sale of the ship hampered the EPA’s own legal efforts to demand the ship be returned for proper testing and remediation.

In India, the ship’s arrival violates the Basel Convention to which India is a Party. Under that United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) treaty, India is not allowed to receive hazardous waste from the United States. Nor can it receive hazardous waste from any foreign source without prior notification of arrival and consent from the Indian government. No such notification or consent was provided in advance of the sudden arrival of the toxic ship. Further, the ship's arrival violated the Supreme Court of India’s order of 14th October 2003 and 6th September 2007, which calls for the pre-cleaning of ships of all toxic substances prior to importation.

The incident is reminiscent of the infamous export of the French Aircraft Carrier Le Clemenceau, which in 2006 was exported to India for breaking from France. French courts finally realized the export was a violation of the Basel Convention and demanded the return of the ship.

“The Oceanic's arrival off the Gujarat beaches makes India an international crime scene, with the Maritime Administration abetting such crimes,” said Mr. Puckett. “The last time something like this happened, the authorities of the exporting country called the ship back and took responsibility. We are calling on the authorities of India and the US to do nothing less.”

The Platinum II now rests at anchorage off Gopnath point approximately 40 nautical miles from the Alang coast while Indian state authorities decide her fate. GMS denies any ownership of the vessel or of the mystery firm Platinum Investment Services Corp. However, the vessel is slated for breaking at the Leela Ship Recycling plot in Alang, which is owned by Komal Sharma, brother to Anil Sharma, owner of GMS.

For more information contact:

Mr. Jim Puckett of Basel Action Network, 206.652-5555, jpuckett@ban.org

[1] Ship-breaking on Alang Beach is well known for its occupational hazards as workers in the scrapping operations are exposed daily to deadly hazards such as asbestos, PCBs, toxic paints, and residual fuels. Death by fire, steel crushing, and cancer are all too common. The Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) acknowledges 372 reported deaths from 1983 to 2004 at Alang, however Greenpeace and the International Federation of Human Rights suggest actual death rates are more than twice that at 50-60 deaths per year. See: http://bellaciao.org/en/spip.php?article19169 and http://www.indianexpress.com/news/fatal-accidents-continue-to-haunt-alang-shipbreaking-yard/476111/0

[2] In February 2008, the SS Oceanic quietly departed from San Francisco Bay under tow and in breach of the U.S. Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). In January 2009, nearly one full year after its illegal departure, the EPA settled with owners, Global Shipping LLC (GSL) and Global Marketing Systems, Inc. (GMS), for illegal export of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which exist within the construction of the vessel. GMS and GSL were ordered to pay $518,500 in U.S. court as part of the settlement.

[3] See copy of settlement: http://www.ban.org/Library/Global_CAFO.pdf

19/10/2009

Beware of Planted News About Convicted US Ship

Note:Sources in Bhavnagar have informed that the central inspection team started their journey for Platinium-II which is lying near Gopnath Port at 4.00 p.m on 19th October but due to heavy swelling in sea and bad light, team came back at Hotel Sun N Shine without conducting any inspection. They went to vessel today (20 October).

Beware of Planted News About Convicted US Ship
Some news agencies have been misled into reporting that the PLATINIUM-II (SS Oceanic, SS Independence) anchored at Bhavnagar anchorage point is leaking and is in danger and its crew members face a threat to life. This is not true.

Reliable sources have just talked to local Port officials who has denied such news. The local official has said that the ship is not in contact with Bhavnagar radio. He has commented that Platinium-II is a dead vessel, and all crew must be on Tug BARACUDA-1, hence the news of CREW members in danger, sinking, have no value and could be counted as planted news.

Notably, all ships are supposed to submit a sea worthy and port worthy certificate before they are allowed anchorage. If the ship in question is indeed damaged the officials must be asked as to why in the event of the ship being "not seaworthy or port worthy" was it given permission of anchorage.

The three member central team will go on board the ship today in the evening hours.

Environmental groups are asking for CBI investigation into the matter. Also they say that Indian authorities should ask for for the ship to produce No Objection Certificate from US Environment Protection Agency (USEPA).

Authorities must probe as to why the ship was sold through a third party based in Liberia?.

Meanwhile, in a report sent to the Union Ministry of Environment, the Gujarat Pollution Control Board has inadvertently admitted and vindicated the claim of the environmental groups that there are toxic, persistent organic pollutants called PCBs are on board the ship.

Besides the violation of the orders of US Environmental Protection Agency, the US ship Platinum II (formerly SS Oceanic, SS Independence) has violated our own apex court order dated 14th October 2003 and 6th September 2007 which has endorsed UN's Basel Convention on Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal. It has also violated the UN's Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.

It must be noted that the new dummy entity called Platinum Investment Services Corporation based in Monorovia, Liberia (which has been created as a seller by Anil Sharma, the last owner Global Marketing Systems of the ship which was filed by the USEPA) to sell it to Komal Sharma, the owner of Leela Ship Recyclers Pvt. Ltd (the buyer of the ship is brother of Anil Sharma), Plot No.2, Alang Ship Recycling Yard, Dist. Bhavnagar is a corporate veil.

Clearly, it is a stage managed act to avoid punitive legal action by the US and Indian authorities. This is an exercise in creating a corporate veil, a well known trick employed by companies to save themselves from corporate liability for their crimes. Now it is for the government and judicial authorities to pierce the corporate veil and "lift" this veil for good.

While our Hon'ble Supreme Court order is silent on disputed vessel i.e.all types of vessel can be permitted for dismantling in India.Ships are categorised as special and General Category.

The ship in question according to Supreme Court Order falls under special category as being a warship Table 2.1 (U.S. Navy Flagship). As per Report of our Supreme Court's Committee of Technical Experts 2.4.2, "The assessment of hazardous wastes and materials containing hazardous substances for ships of "special Concern" should therefore not only identify types of hazardous wastes and materials containing hazardous substances, but also make a fair judgement of the quantities such as ACMs, asbestos dust and fibre, PCB containing materials etc, to be handled before anchoring permission can be granted."

As per the order, 3.1 Recommended Process for Anchoring (see P.S. for the

exact text of the court order),

1) The ship owner or recycler should submit the documents well in advance of the arrival of the ship for recycling for a desk review by SMB in consultation with SPCB and Customs Department.

2) Whether ship owner has submitted the documents well in advance or not? or it has been simultaneously submitted when the vessel has reached at Bhavnagar anchorage? whether GMB and other concerned agencies has verified the records?

3) Whether quantification of hazardous waste as per 3.1 (h) is submitted for desk review?

4) If it has not complied with the above procedure,on what basis GMB has granted permission for anchoring to Platinum II (SS Oceanic, SS Independence)? Which agency is responsible for contempt of Hon'ble Supreme Court order? What action has been taken against responsible officer by the concerned Department?

5) Even though our Supreme Court order seems silent on the issue, The US ship in question is like a criminal from other country that has come to India after violating the order of other country against whom the order is also passed by their Environmental Protection Agency.

6) After the issue of Order, whether MoEF/CPCB has ever tried to review/monitor that concerned agencies are implementing the Supreme Court order.

7) How to ascertain that such irregularities are not carried out at Alang after the issue of Supreme Court Order.

8) Whether GPCB has ever monitored asbestos fiber concentrations in ambient air after the issue of order?

9) Whether recommendations (Summary of Recommendations) of Committee of Technical Experts has been implemented? Whether MoEF/CPCB has ever done any review the implementation of the Court's order?

It appears that nothing short of an inquiry by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) can ascertain the circumstances undue which this US ship entered Indian waters with impunity. All the conniving Gujarat Maritime Board (gmb) officials, Custom officials and Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) officials who are hand in glove with the US ship owners who have created a corporate veil to hide behind it must be made liable for their acts of omission and commission. The ship should should be taken away from the Bhavnagar anchorage point outside Port limits, or outside the territorial waters, or the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Upon entry into the Port area, a ship was allowed to be anchored by dropping one or more anchors to the seabed. A ship at anchor may lift its anchors, and sail away. Anchoring of ships is thus fully reversible. In the case of the US ship, therefore, there is a clear case for reversing the ship back to US.

The ship in question must be made to follow the path paved by Le Clemenceau, the French warship, which was stopped by our Supreme Court and recalled by the French court.

P.S: Bhavnagar is an all-weather direct berthing Port for smaller vessels. It has a draft of up to 4 mtrs. and is located in the Gulf of Cambay on the west coast of India. The port is well connected with the State Highway, Bhavnagar city is about 10 kms. From the new port. Nearest international airport is Ahmedabad. Daily air services are available between Bhavnagar and Mumbai. Contact Details of Port Officer, Bhavnagar: Capt. Rajeev Shrivastav, 0278-2210221(O), 0278-2568520 (R)

Contact Details for Alang Ship Recycling Yard- A.K.Rathod, I/C Port Officer, Ship Breaking Yard Alang, District: Bhavnagar, (O) 02842-235622, (R) 0278-2561410
(F) 02842-235955. For details of other officials

18/10/2009

MPs Demand Action Against Convicted Toxic US Ship

Basudev Acharya, Communist Party of India (Marxist)leader of the house in the Lok Sabha has revealed that he is writing to the Prime Minister to raise the issue of dumping of this convicted toxic US ship named Platinum II (SS Oceanic, SS Independence) in Indian waters. It is noteworthy that if the ship is recalled by the US agencies, no Indian citizen or agency would suffer any financial loss of any kind.

Reacting to a question about the dead US ship, Prakash Javadekar, a Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) and spokesperson of Bhartiya Janata Partry said, "It happening for a long time in Alang. US has a policy if dumping toxic waste in other countries. we should take some pro-active measures and the government should prohibit such activities". He was speaking on News X, TV channel.

AFP reports India orders probe into 'toxic' US ship

Tehelka news weekly asks How did a ship, banned in the US for its toxic chemicals, get clearance for disposal in Alang

Indian Express reports
Three-member team set up to investigate 'radioactive' ship


Outlook news weekly reports Govt Worried About 'Radioactive' Ship at Alang

Indian Express reports Ramesh orders inquiry into ship off Alang, Gujarat says it's clean

Rediff reports Toxic US ship denied entry into Alang shipyard

The Times of India informs Toxic waste on US ship: Gujarat panel

The Economic Times reports Row over 'radioactive' ship anchoring at Alang

IBN-CNN notes US ship at Alang poses toxic threat to India

The Telegraph reports ‘Toxic’ row over US ship
- Activists allege vessel contains radioactive substances


The Mint revealed Team to examine ship docked near Alang yard

Indian Express reports ‘Radioactive’ ship near Alang: Inquiry ordered

NDTV notes http://www.ndtv.com/news/india/govt_worried_about_radioactive_ship_at_alang.php

Press Trust of India reports Ship will not be given permission unless checked: GMB

The Times of India reports 'Platinum-II not to be dismantled at Alang if toxic substance found'

`Toxic' ship: Gujarat panel gives it clean chit, but Centre sends probe team

The Times of India reports 'Radioactive' ship anchors at Alang

The Economic Times MoEF seeks details of ship in Alang from Guj authorities

ANI reports No toxic materials on board Platinum II: Gujarat Govt

Daily News & Analysis (DNA) reports SC panel will not allow ship to beach, US ship stirs toxic panic in Alang and Toxic US ship with dubious distinction sneaks into Alang

Visfot.com reports US toxic ship enters in Indian waters without US permission

Jansatta editorial notes hazards from scrap

This ship of US origin, suspected to be carrying toxic substances, arrived in Indian waters on October 7, 2009 without prior permission from the authorities concerned. Right now it is Bhavnagar anchorage point. The officials who were involved in giving clearance for anchorage after the Desk Reviews are under scanner because there are allegations of corrupt practices. Notably, there is no fixed norm for Desk Review and in this case officials of easy virtue have been caught on the wrong foot.

Sources reveal that in a rare unanimity the entire shipbreaking industry, civil society groups, trade unions and most of the MPs are against the entry of this fugitive ship in Indian waters. This convicted ship must be sent back with immediate effect. Significantly, it this dead ship is allowed, there are some 300 rotten and hazardous wastes laden ships waiting to be dumped in India.

Meanwhile, US based Basel Action Network has alerted the US authorities about the legal compulsion to recall the ship.

15/10/2009

India withholds toxic ships entry into Alang shipyard

Note:Gujarat Maritime Board claims that Platinum II, the convicted toxic US ship is off Gopnath, which is the outer anchorage point off Gopnath point. This fugitive vessel from US is in Bhavnagar for six days. It is being rumoured through planted news in some newspapers that the ship is in danger, therefore, it needs rescue. Interestingly, these news reports do not refer to the violation of orders of US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) the which is easily availble on the websites. Sources have revealed that a Supreme Court appointed committee official has warned the Gujarat Maritime Board that "all hell will break loose if permission is granted to dubious ships. It will have consequences and the concerned authortities must be ready to face the music in t he upcoming session of the parliament.

Civil society groups are demanding an inquiry by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to ascertain the circumstances undue which this US ship entered Indian waters with impunity. All the conniving Gujarat Maritime Board (gmb) officials, Custom officials and Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) officials who are hand in glove with the US ship owners who have created a corporate veil to hide behind it must be made liable for their acts of omission and commission. The ship should should be taken away from the Bhavnagar anchorage point outside Port limits, or outside the territorial waters, or the Exclusive Eco-nomic Zone (EEZ). Upon entry into the Port area, a ship was allowed to be anchored by dropping one or more anchors to the seabed. A ship at anchor may lift its anchors, and sail away. Anchoring of ships is thus fully reversible. In the case of the US ship, therefore, there is a clear case for reversing the ship back to US.

The ship in question must be made to follow the path paved by Le Clemenceau, the French warship, which was stopped by our Supreme Court and recalled by the French court.


It must be noted that the new dummy entity called Platinum Investment Services Corporation based in Monorovia, Liberia (which has been created as a seller by Anil Sharma, the last owner Global Marketing Systemsr of the ship which was filed by the USEPA) to sell it to Komal Sharma, the owner of Leela Ship Recyclers Pvt. Ltd (the buyer of the ship is brother of Anil Sharma), Plot No.2, Alang Ship Recycling Yard, Dist. Bhavnagar is a corporate veil.

India withholds toxic ships entry into Alang shipyard

Gadhinagar, Oct 15 - ANI:India on Thursday denied permission to a US ship allegedly containing toxic wastes to anchor at the Alang Ship breaking Yard on the Gujarat coast.

New Delhi has sent a firm message to first world countries that India cant be used as a dumping yard for their wastes.

The US Ship Platinum- 2 is currently anchored at Gopnath Port near Alang.

The Union Environment and Forest Ministry has asked the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) to submit a report about the materials, onboard the ship.

The ministry has also asked the GPCB to verify whether the ship has complied with Supreme Court guidelines issued on October 7.

The contentious ship was given permission to anchor on October 8, after a desk review, wherein the Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB), Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) and Customs gave the clearance.

A section of the media, suspected that the ship could be the SS Independence, which was earlier banned by the US Environment Protection Agency (USEPA).

The ship was reportedly renamed SS Oceanic which lay idle at Dubai for over a year before being rechristened as the Platinum - 2.

Earlier, pro-environment groups in Gujarat had alleged that a retired US ship, containing toxic substances, had anchored at Bhavnagar Port for being dismantled at the Alang ship breaking yard.

Environmentalists have alleged, that Platinum -2 contains radioactive wastes.

The US had earlier penalized two companies for attempting to move the ship out of US waters without decontaminating it.

The apex court has passed a ruling that ships should be allowed to be broken down in the country only after prior decontamination. - ANI

13/10/2009

American Toxic Ship Must Be Sent Back

The US Environment Protection Agency (USEPA) through its order dated 28 and 29 January, 2009 has barred the ship Platinum II (formerly SS Oceanic, SS Independence) from leaving US waters for scrapping of the ship. If this order is to be followed then and even as per Indian law the ship must be sent back to US in the same way as the French ship Le Clemenceau. The order is available at http://www.ban.org/Library/Global_CAFO.pdf
One can find the USEPA statement here: http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/ab2d81eb088f4a7e85257359003f5339/8e2829ba962e93528525754d0061d10c!OpenDocument
Nothing short of an inquiry by Central Bureau of Investigation can ascertain the circumstances undue which this US ship entered Indian waters with impunity. All the conniving Gujarat Maritime Board officials, Custom officials and one environment ministry official who are hand in glove with the US ship owners who have created a corporate veil to hide behind it must be made liable for their acts of omission and commission. The ship should should be taken away from the Bhavnagar anchorage point outside Port limits, or outside the territorial waters, or the Exclusive Eco-nomic Zone (EEZ). Upon entry into the Port area, a ship was allowed to be anchored by dropping one or more anchors to the seabed. A ship at anchor may lift its anchors, and sail away. Anchoring of ships is thus fully reversible. In the case of the US ship, therefore, there is a clear case for reversing the ship back to US.

According to the Indian Supreme Court order of September 6, 2007 the "Recommended Process for Anchoring" is as follows: "The ship owner or recycler should submit the following documents well in advance of the arrival of the ship for recycling for a desk review by the SMB in consultation with SPCB and Customs Department:
a)Name of the Ship
b) IMO Identification No.
c) Flag
d) Call Sign
e) Name of the Master of the Ship and his nationality
f) List of the crew
g) GRT/NRT/LDT of the ship with supporting documents
h) Assessment of hazardous wastes/hazardous substances:
In the structure of the ship, and on board as far as practicable by reference to the ship's, draw-ings, technical specifications, ship's stores, manifest, in consultation with the ship builder, equipment manufacturers and others as appropriate. In the case of ships of special concern, in addition to identification and marking of all areas containing hazardous wastes/hazardous sub-stances, quantification of such wastes/substances would also be necessary."

"After desk review by SMB/SPCB/Customs, a decision will be taken regarding permission for an-chorage of the ships. In case, permission is refused by any one of these three agencies, the ship owner would be entitled to both a review and appeal. SMB and Customs Dept. would separately notify the procedure therefor along with the time frames and consequences of not adhering to the time frames. In the case of SPCB, while review would be done by an appropriate authority of the SPCB itself, the appeal would lie with the CPCB since there are no specific legal provisions gov-erning this. Once a decision is taken to accord permission for anchorage, instructions for safe anchorage would be issued by the SMB."

In this case Desk review meant exchange of handsome cash transfer. In fact it is a public knowledge that GMB and GPCB have become a den of corruption.

Not surprisingly, there was a Environment Ministry team in Alang, Bhavnagar, Gujarat to investigate the death of the six workers who were burnt to death in August 2009 on plot no. 24. Sources from Alang have informed that these officials and the local officials of Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) have been silenced with money power. And therefore, they are unlikely to give any adverse report. Ironically, these very officials have consistently said along with GMB that Alang beach is a safe place for hazardous industrial activity like ship dismantling even as the rate of death and accident is rising at an alarming rate. The incident took place when some workers of Alang Auto & General Engineering Co. (P) Ltd were cutting down the engine portion of ship ‘MS Jesica’.

The track record of Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) in safeguarding Alang beach has consistently been quite bad for it permits hazardous industrial activity in this fragile coastal ecosystem with scant regard for environmental and occupational health of the communities and the workers. GPCB's Regional Manager in conversation with a journalist has accepted that in his report sent to his Gandhinagar office he has mentioned that there is radioactive material, PCBs and asbestos on the ship. The journalist pointed out the apprehension that his report might be manipulated before it is sent to the Union Environment Ministry under the influence of vested interests who have prevailed over and intimidated the local authorities.

The Court order has reiterated that "At the international level, India should participate in international meetings on ship-breaking at the level of the International Maritime Organisation and the Basel Convention's Technical Working Group with a clear mandate for the decontamination of ships of their hazardous sub-stances such as asbestos, waste oil, gas and PCBs, prior to export to India for breaking." Besides the non-traceability of the owner and the violation of the USEPA order, the above order of the Supreme Court too has not been complied with in the case because the ship has not been pre-cleaned. In a manifest contempt of court a comprehensive Code on shipbreaking has not been formulated so far as was required by the apex court order. Till that is done, a new beginning can be made by sending the convicted toxic US back to US ports so that a bad precedent that can pave the way for 300 more such US ships to be dumped in India is avoided. Several members of Indian parliament have expressed grave concern.

10/10/2009

US Dumps Toxic Ship in India

Sources reveal that letters that has been sent to US Department of Transportation, Maritime Administration (MARAD), Washington, DC asking them to recall the ship Platinum 2 (SS Oceanic) which has violated the US law has been acknowledged and they are believed to be acting on it. Sources from Alang have revealed that the owners of the ship have sent a misleading SOS message to local authorities saying that if its not beached it would get drowned. Sources in the environment ministry say that for the safety of the port the ship be taken off the anchorage point in Bhavnagar. It is being said that the ship is under the corporate veil of Platinum Investments registered in Liberia although behind the veil lies the previous owner of the ship.

It is being feared that the following the undue favours provided to the local Indian authorities might act to create an excuse to get the ship beached. Sources from Alang have revealed that the owners of the ship have sent a misleading SOS message to local authorities saying that if its not beached it would get drowned. This gives a sense of deja vu. Similar lame excuses and humanitarian grounds were invoked at the time of SS Blue Lady(SS Norway). National opposition parties have issued statements against this toxic waste imperialism of US and are demanding that the ship be sent back to US.

Who is the owner of the Hazardous Wastes laden American Ship, what is its present port of registry. Does any one know?
Note: Amid demands that US authorities should recall this convicted ship with IMO No. 5160180, environment ministry officials undertook a pre-planned and stage managed visit to Bhavnagar on 12th October to find out teh details about the ship. Notably, Gujarat Pollution Control Board does not even have laboratory to test the toxic PCBs which are on the ship. Latest reports from reliable industry sources reveal that the Indian buyer has backed out fearing legal action. This entails a major security breach because no one knows as to who invited the ship India. The owner of the ship is non-traceable. Naval Intelligence which has been seized with the matter must file an immediate report in the matter so that teh ship is sent back at the earliest. Notably, the owners of the leaking imported waste oil containers lying at some ports are also not traceable. The hazardous waste trade and the illegalities therein are following a pattern. Supreme Court's Monitoring Committee had recommended that nothing short of an inquiry by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) can get to the bottom of the dubious goings on. Besides environmental and labour groups, most Indian shipbreakers are opposed to its beaching in India. Sources reveal that efforts are on to rope in another shipbreaker to buy the ship in India to escape punitive legal action.

This 18,503-tonne passenger ship Platinum II is at the Bhavnagar anchorage point. It is now reported to be at plot no. 2. Officials like P M Rathod, Alang Port Officer seem to be playing into the hands of the vested interests when they invoke dubious humanitarian grounds as they had in the case of SS Blue Lady if the vessel is indeed in danger, it should be taken off the anchorage point for the safety of the port. Platinum II has nine decks and passenger capacity of 1,021 people. The vessel is estimated to cost approximately Rs 35 crore.


Photographs of the SS Oceanic (now Platinum2) were taken by Patrick Race & is available on smaritime.com
Press Release
Platinum II (formerly SS Oceanic, SS Independence) violates International and national laws of US and India
New Delhi/10/10/2009: An urgent letter from Indian Platform on Shipbreaking has been sent to US Environment Protection Agency (USEPA), Consul of United States of America in India, Indian Ministry of Shipping, Environment & Forests and Steel concerning asbestos, PCB and radioactive laden the vessel named Platinum II (formerly SS Oceanic, SS Independence) that has changed its name again to hoodwink the authorities. The ship’s IMO No. is 5160180. Barack Obama’s USEPA has disappointed environmental groups through his regressive environmental policies.

As of October 10, 2009 according to the information received from very reliable sources, the ship was due for beaching in the Plot No. B-5 of Rajeev Reniwal, Haryana Ship Breakers Ltd, in Alang, Bhavnagar, Gujarat. Right now the ship is in the Bhavnagar anchorage point, Gujarat. The ship was under tow. Indian government has submitted to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) that a ship under tow should be under go pre-cleaning and the Indian Supreme Court has also sought prior decontamination of such ships in the country of export.

Earlier, on 29 January, 2009 a US company Global Marketing Systems, Inc. (GMS) involved in sending hundreds of obsolete ships to the infamous shipbreaking beaches like Alang was forced to pay the penalty and certify that they would not undertake such actions again. The USEPA took legal action against GMS for violations of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the law which prohibits the exportation of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), a persistent toxic pollutant used in the paints, insulation and gasketry in older ships. PCBs, or plychlorinated biphenyls have been linked to cancer, liver and skin disease, reproductive repairment, immune system damage and behavioural and neurological damage.

The shipbreaking operations endanger workers and the immediate environment by failing to manage asbestos, PCBs, toxic paints, and residual fuels. The ship is an international fugitive vessel. This 682 foot ocean liner is loaded with an estimated 210 tons of toxic polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contaminated material and an estimated 250 tons of asbestos as part of its construction.

The ship should be sent back to US in the same way as was done in the case of Le Clemenceau. The US authorities must act before the ship is handed over to Rajiv Reniwal, the owner of Haryana Ship Breakers Ltd by Anil Sharma, the current owner of ship. Reniwal is the same owner who brought before the Supreme Court the matter of the SS Blue Lady (SS Norway) ship which contained toxic substances.

On 8th October, 2009, anchorage permission was granted after Desk review wherein Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB), Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) and Customs gave the clearance. The hand over of the ship is likely to take place on either 11th October or 12th October. Once again in order to present a fait accompli the GMB is conniving with Anil Sharma and it is being said that Platinum-2 has collided with another vessel Amira S' ship. A tug named Barracuda-1 was involved the ship being pulled. The port of registry is Libera and a dummy company has been created to undertake the transaction process.

Indian Platform on Ship-breaking, a coalition of environmental, health, labour and human rights are demanding that the US government must recall the ship in the same way as the French had recalled Le Clemenceau.

Given the fact that Rajeev Gauba, Joint Secretary, Hazardous Substances Management Division, Union Ministry of Environment is abroad till 19th October, a message has been sent to the Union Minister, Jairam Ramesh.

Letters from the Platform has also been sent to the concerned authorities informing them that the ship in question has been convicted and penalized by the USEPA in January 2009. The entry of the ship in the Indian waters is in violation of the UN’s Basel Convention on Transboundary movement of hazardous wastes & their disposal. The ship has not complied with the Court's orders of 14th October, 2003 that has also endorsed the Basel Convention and deemed it as part of right to life.

As per the exiting rules, if the ship breaking facility is not deemed by the country of import, or the country of export as possessing the capability for "Environmentally Sound Management" then import/export must be prohibited. Exporting country can be the country where a ship owner is located, a port state, or the flag state. Parties to the Convention such as India is duty bound to prohibit trade in hazardous wastes between themselves and non-Parties like US without a special bi/multilateral Agreement.

A Basel Party wishing to export a ship containing hazardous materials for scrapping must first notify and then receive consent from recipient country prior to export. Prior Informed Consent (PIC) paperwork is required including a notification indicating that the ship does not contain any hazardous or radioactive substances onboard. Such a notification will require full sampling and testing of various onboard materials.

The ship should be properly decontaminated by the ship owner prior to export for its breaking. In the case of Platinum II (formerly S S Oceanic), US is a non party to the UN treaty on hazardous wastes of which India is a party. For ship like these, the September 2007 order too reiterates, "…a clear mandate for the decontamination of ships of their hazardous substances such as asbestos, waste oil, gas and PCBs, prior to export to India for breaking." The same has not been complied with.

US ship in the Indian waters violating the US law under which it is illegal to export the highly toxic banned substance for any reason. The entry of this ship is manifestly illegal. It is reliably learnt that the name of the ship has again been changed. The new name of the ship has not been made public. A dummy company has been created and registered in Liberia and a MOU has been signed between this dummy company and the Haryana Shipbreaking Ltd. US can ascertain from the Indian Customs and all the port authorities should verify whether the port of registry is genuine or fake. It is a case of fabrication of documents to bypass the USEPA order wherein it was never mentioned that the ship is being sent to a dummy company.

Earlier, two Maryland companies involved with SS Oceanic (now named PLATINUM II), were made by US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) to pay the US federal government more than $518,000 as a penalty for having illegally sent this old ocean liner containing toxic PCBs overseas for disposal and shipbreaking. The companies in question were Cumberland-based Global Shipping LLC and an affiliate, Global Marketing Systems Inc.

The court had given conditional clearance to shipbreaking activity under the clear mandate for the decontamination (pre-cleaning) of ships of their hazardous substances including asbestos, radioactive material, waste oils, gases and both solid and liquid PCB contaminated material and any other substances covered by the Basel Convention prior to imports for breaking.

We demand that the US government take action to have the ship returned to a US port, the USEPA had claimed they lacked the authority to have the ship recalled. Meanwhile, the shipbreaking case remains pending in the Supreme Court of India after the retirement of Justice Arijit Pasayat. The matter came for hearing on 11 September, 2009 before Bench of Justices Altamas Kabir and Cyriac Joseph. The matter is listed for the next hearing on 13th November, 2009.

For details: Gopal Krishna, Mb: 9818089660,
E-mail:krishnagreen@gmail.com
Also visit: www.ban.org, http://www.shipbreakingplatform.com/



Background of the convicted toxic US ship

Platinum II (formerly, SS Oceanic, SS Independence) is an ocean liner built in 1951 by Bethlehem Steel Corporation, Quincy, Massachusetts, USA for American Export Lines. In 1959, Independence was rebuilt as a cruise ship. Between 1974 and 1982 she sailed as SS Oceanic Independence, after which she reverted to her original name. Since 2006 the ship has been named SS Oceanic. On 8 February 2008, after being mothballed for 7 years, SS Oceanic left San Francisco for Singapore, and was reported to be going to Dubai.

The ship measures 683 feet (208 m) in length and 23,719 gross register tons. She was capable of cruising at 26 knots. She accommodated 1,000 passengers, and was designed to accommodate 5,000 soldiers during wartime. SS Oceanic is the last US built ocean liner to sail under the American flag. Following the 2001 bankruptcy of American Hawaii Cruises, the owners of the American Hawaii Line, The ship became the property of the US Maritime Administration and sailed from Honolulu to San Francisco, arriving on 8 November 2001.

In February 2003, Independence was sold at auction for US$4 million to Norwegian Cruise Line, which also acquired SS United States. At this time, NCL received permission to create US flagged cruise operation, to be named NCL America. (US flagging is a valuable competitive advantage, as the Passenger Vessel Service Act prohibits non-US lines from transporting passengers from one US port to another without stopping at a foreign port, and in particular it permits 7-day Hawaii cruises. As US flagging requires US-built ships, no other major cruise operation is US-flagged.)

In mid-2006, Independence was renamed Oceanic, amid speculation she may be scrapped. In July 2007, Norwegian Cruise Line announced that Oceanic had been sold with later reports claiming the ship had been purchased by an American company.

SS Oceanic was towed out of San Francisco Bay on 8 February 2008. Its final destination was revealed to be Singapore, but was changed to Dubai but has been stopped due to a complaint filed by the USEPA that the ship was being towed to a overseas scrap yard. There were reports that the ship was destined for the scrapyard in Bangladesh, but it has landed in Indian waters with impunity.

Global Marketing Systems, last owner of the SS Oceanic (now named Platinum II) was fined $518,500 by USEPA for exporting the ship for scrap without prior removal of toxins such as asbestos and PCBs. One can find the USEPA statement here: http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/ab2d81eb088f4a7e85257359003f5339/8e2829ba962e93528525754d0061d10c!OpenDocument

09/10/2009

OBAMA's USEPA ALLOWS DUMPING OF TOXIC NAVY SHIPS

According to the information received from reliable sources, the ship SS Oceanic (now named PLATINUM II), a US ship was due to get beached in the Plot No. B-5 Hariyana Shipping Ltd, Right now the ship is in the Bhavnagar anchorage point. The ship has under tow. Indian government has submitted to the IMO that a ship under tow should be pre-contaminated and the Indian Supreme Court has also sought prior decontamination of such ships in the country of export.

The name of the ship in question has again been changed. The new name of the ship has not been made public. Anil Sharma’s GMS has created a dummy company registered in Liberia. Now a MOU has been signed between this dummy company and the Haryana Shipbreaking Ltd.

Customs and all the port authorities should verify whether the port of registry is genuine or fake. It is a case of fabrication of documents to bypass the USEPA order wherein it was never mentioned that the ship is being sent to a dummy company.

Verification of the port of registry is likely to reveal the true nature of the transaction, the custom and port authorities must ascertain whether money transaction has taken place at the port of registry.

The ship should be sent back to US in the same way as was done in the case of Le Clemenceau. The US authorities must act before the ship is handed over to Rajiv Reniwal, the owner of Hariyana Shipping Ltd by Anil Sharma, the current owner of ship. Hariyana Shipping Ltd's Reniwal is same owner who misled and made fraudulent representation before the Supreme Court in the matter of the SS Blue Lady (SS Norway)

Anchored permission was granted after Desk review wherein Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB), Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) and Customs gave the clearance. The hand over of the ship is likely to take place on either 11th October or 12th October.

Once again in order to present a fait accompli the GMB is conniving with Anil Sharma and it is being said that Platinum-2 has collided with another vessel Amira S' ship. A tug named Barracuda-1 was involved the ship being pulled.

This 682 foot ocean liner is loaded with an estimated 210 tons of toxic polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contaminated material and an estimated 250 tons of asbestos as part of its construction.

There the shipbreaking operations endanger workers and the immediate environment by failing to manage asbestos, PCBs, toxic paints, and residual fuels. Moreover the entry of this ship is manifestly illegal. The ship is an international fugitive vessel. Under US law it is illegal to export the highly toxic banned substance for any reason.

The toxic trade watchdog group Basel Action Network (BAN) had declared victory on
29 January 2009 after a U.S business involved in sending hundreds of ships to the infamous shipbreaking beaches of Bangladesh and India was forced to pay $518,500 and certify that they would not undertake such actions again. BAN had warned, however, that there was still ample opportunity for unscrupulous operators to exploit loopholes to export very toxic U.S. ships to the South Asian beaches like Alang, Gujrat. BAN is a member organization of the NGO Platform on Shipbreaking, an international coalition seeking to ban beaching and unsustainable ship scrapping.

In February 2008, the United States Environmental Protection Agency was tipped off when they discovered that Global Marketing Systems, Inc. (GMS), headed up by a world famous cash-buyer of obsolete ships, Anil Sharma, had taken ownership of the SS Oceanic (former SS Independence) and had the old passenger liner towed out of San Francisco Bay with the intent of scrapping the vessel on the beaches of South Asia. BAN demanded that the U.S. government take action to have the ship returned to a U.S. port, but the EPA claimed they lacked the authority to have the ship recalled. Nevertheless, the EPA took legal action against GMS for violations of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the law which prohibits the exportation of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), a persistent toxic pollutant used in the paints, insulation and gasketry in older ships.

It is high time SS OceanicC (Platinum) is recalled by the US government. This act of trade in hazardous ships entails a “knowing and willful” criminal violation, and they could find themselves behind bars.”

US government agencies have so far ignored each other’s rules and continue to facilitate ship dealers being able to circumvent toxics laws such as TSCA by their actions or inaction. US Maritime Administration (MARAD) must stop such instances of change the flag of a ship from a U.S. flag to a “flag of convenience” and then make the transaction and export.

Soon after EPA initiated its enforcement action against Global and its sister organization Global Shipping LLC, GMS had requested a new application to the Maritime Administration seeking approval to sell the vessel but changing the purpose of export from disposal to continued use of the vessel.

Earlier, the vessel was owned by Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) and sold in July 2007 to California Manufacturing Corporation (CMU) which appears to be a company created by NCL and operates out of the NCL headquarters in Miami. CMU is still listed in the Coast Guard documentation as the last registered owner of the ship. NCL had revealed to journalists that CMU no longer owns the ship but sold the vessel on July 26th, 2007. Under US law, if the ship was sold to a foreign entity, this exchange is illegal as the Maritime Administration did not approve the sale as is required.

Further, importation of a toxic ship from the United States (a non-Party), for full or partial dismantling by a country that is a Party to the Basel Convention is a violation of the terms of the Basel Convention treaty. However, as was the case with the last NCL ocean liner that needed to be disposed of -- the SS Norway (aka Blue Lady), by the time it is rammed up onto the beaches at Alang, India, it may be too late to seek legal recourse.

Ships collide near Alang yard

BHAVNAGAR: Two vessels collided when one was approaching Alang ship-breaking yard for beaching on Wednesday. Fortunately, no casualties were reported in the incident.

According to officials at the yard, Platinum-2' was being pulled to the yard by Barracuda-1' tug when the incident occurred. "The mishap was caused by high tide, during which wires tying the vessels together snapped. Platinum-2' was flung away into the sea and collided with Amira S' ship," said an official of Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB).

"When GMB officials quizzed those on board Barracuda-1', responsible for the mishap, they couldn't produce any explanation for the error that could've resulted in a great tragedy," the official said.

It may be recalled that two vessels had collided in a similar manner in July. The incident was allegedly' swept under the carpet by authorities at the ship-breaking yard.