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

24/11/2009

Letter to CBI, Gandhinagar

Request for Inquiry into Platinum II (formerly Oceanic, Independence) & documents of dead ships that entered Alang waters post September, 2007


To

ACB Gandhinagar
Gujarat
Pin- 382010

Subject-Request for Inquiry into Platinum II (formerly Oceanic, Independence) & documents of dead ships that entered Alang waters post September, 2007

Sir/Madam,

I am writing to inform you about the US flagged vessel called the Oceanic (IMO No. 5160180) that is said to be reflagged under Kiribati registry as of September 30, 2009 under the name Platinum II or D.V. Platinum II (formerly SS Oceanic, SS Independence). I am requesting you to inquire into the documents of this ship in particular and all the ships that entered Alang waters post September 6, 2007 order of the Indian Supreme Court.

I am an applicant in the Supreme Court of India in the hazardous wastes case and I had sent a letter to the Union Ministry of Environment & Forests in the matter of a US flagged vessel called the Platinum II (formerly Oceanic, Independence) with IMO No. 5160180. I had written to the concerned US authorities as well.

In response to my letter about the ship in question, the Union Government's central inspection team's report on the ship mentioned above is available at http://moef.nic.in/downloads/public-information/Final_Plantinum-II_Report.pdf and its annexures which has documents of claimed registry are available at
http://moef.nic.in/downloads/public-information/Annexures_Platinium.pdf

On page 9. of the 23rd October, 2009 Report of the Central Technical Team constituted by Ministry of Environment & Forests on the inspection of Ship “Platinum-II” anchored at Bhavnagar Anchorage Point, Gujarat, India, it is submitted that "the Ship does not have any national flag though USA flag was found painted on Chimney. The ship is of 1951 make and as per Lloyds Register ( Annex: VI) ; its original name was Independence as registered in USA. The name has been undergone changes thereafter and its present name is Platinum-II as registered in-Republic of Kiribati in September, 2009 in the name of M/s Platinum Investment Services Corporation at 80, Broad Street, Monrovia, Liberia."

Following my letter dated 7 Nov 2009, an order was issued by the Union Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) established that post September 6, 2007 order of the Supreme Court, the post of registry of most of some 200 ships have not been properly investigated before desk clearance. It creates a compelling logic to do so now both with regard to previous ships and any new ship in future.The order Office Memorandum on US Ship "Platinum -II", Dated November 9th, 2009 is also availble on the website of the Ministry of Environment & Forests: http://moef.nic.in/index.php

It is noteworthy that the order categorically states, the order on the issue in question has been passed "with the approval of the Minister of State (Independent Charge) of Environment & Forests", Mr Jairam Ramesh and refers to allegations of fake documents which needs to be looked into.

Earlier, there has been newspapers referring to intelligence reports mentioning that the Gujarat Maritime Board regulations seem to allow dead ships innocent passage through the entire stretch of Indian waters unscrutinized by the security agencies. Besides environmental security, maritime security, national security also seems to be a casualty. Also minutes of the Inter-ministerial committee on shipbreaking available on the website of Union Steel Ministry refers to security threats from the Alang based industry.

The order of MoEF and its report emerged in response to the letters written by me to the Indian authorties and the US authorities.

The US ship in question left US shores in February, 2008. US law requires US Maritime Administration (MARAD) to give approval to dead ships for any reflagging for scrap purposes. It is clear from the documents in public domain that two laws have been violated. The US Maritime Law and likely Indian Maritime Law. It must be illegal for a ship to be brought into India with a falsified flag and registry. What is quite glaring is the motivated connivance on the part of the US Maritime Administration. We are aware that more than 300 dead and toxic ship are waiting to be dumped in countries like India. MARAD seems to be attempting to engineer a precedent so that the rest of the hazardous ships can be shifted to India in order to help ship owners escape decontamination cost.

I had written a letter to Liau Siew Leng Operation Manager, Kiribati Ship Registry, Singapore with copies marked to concerned officials in Union Environment Ministry & Forests and Union Steel Ministry to confirm ship's registry who responded back with documentary proof that the ship in question is not registered with Kiribati Ship Registry. Notably, US Environment Protection Agency (USEPA) has already penalized teh ship for violating its US Toxic Substances Control Act. The USEPA order dated 28 January, 2009 available at http://www.ban.org/Library/Global_CAFO.pdf that has barred the ship Platinum II (formerly SS Oceanic, SS Independence) from leaving US waters for scrapping of the ship. The USEPA statement dated 29th January, 2009 on the conviction of the ship is available at http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/ab2d81eb088f4a7e85257359003f5339/8e2829ba962e93528525754d0061d10c!OpenDocument

If our environment ministry's order dated 9th November, 2009, USEPA statement dated 29th January, 2009 and the fake and sample of original documents submitted (attached) to all the concerned officials are taken cognisance of, it would emerge that the dead US ship must be asked to leave Indian waters in the same way as had happened in the case of the French ship Le Clemenceau.

Also the entire episode seems to build up a case for the investigation of documents of more than 200 ships that came to Alang (post September 6, 2007 order of the Supreme Court) to stop this malpractice and to bring the culprits who are making fake certificates of the post of registry and the connving officials to book.

I would be happy to share more information if required.

warm regards
Gopal Krishna

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