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
Even as the fate of controversial ocean liner Platinum-II, anchored off the Bhavnagar coast, remains in the doldrums, another toxic waste-laden vessel — Margaret Hill — is reported to be on its way to Alang for dismantling.
Indian Platform on Ship-breaking (IPoS) has shot off a letter to the inter-ministerial committee on ship-breaking under the Steel Ministry, urging it to stop the UK tanker ship from entering into Indian waters.
IPoS convener Gopal Krishna said that the liquefied natural gas (LNG) carrier has been sold to the Alang ship-breaking yard for 10.2 million US dollars. The 36-year-old vessel is currently docked in Dubai and expected to leave for India shortly. It had left the UK on the pretext of a conversion project.
Krishna said that George Kiayias of the European Commission, DG Environment, stated in a communication dated February 22: “We have been closely watching the situation. Dubai officials have already been alerted by England’s Environment Agency, who are currently planning to contact the Indian authorities and alert them as well.”
Margaret Hill (ex-Hoegh Galleon), once a candidate for a floating LNG project, was sold to Dubai-based cash buyer Argo Systems reportedly for onward sale into India. According to the IPoS, Drydocks World, Dubai, had some discussions with the ship's owners in the past about a conversion job, but no agreement was reached. There has been no contact between the two for weeks.
US-based gas magnate Tom Tatham, whose company, LNG Partners, had acquired and registered the vessel under a new ship owning arm Maverick LNG in mid-2007 reportedly for 45 million dollars. Later, a scrap sale was arranged by the ship's mortgage provider, Fortress Credit Corp. But the Environment Agency (EA) detained the ship on ground that under the European law, vessels containing asbestos and other hazardous substances cannot be sold outside the European Union for demolition.
It was released after Fortress and new owner Waller Marine, a previous business associate of Tatham's, assured that the ship would be taken to Dubai for conversion. The vessel left Southampton in the UK in December.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court will hear a petition on Friday on Platinum II.
Feb 26, 2010
New Delhi: Even as the Supreme Court (SC) is yet to consider a plea asking for marching orders to highly toxic Platinum-II from Bhavnagar, another contaminated vessel, Margaret Hill, is on its way to India.
The 36-year-old liquefied natural gas carrier measuring 87,600 cubic metres was once a candidate for a floating LNG project. But it has been sold to Dubai-based Agro Systems and is heading towards the ship-breaking yard in Alang, Gujarat.
Sources say that the UK’s Environment Agency (EA) had, in the past, detained the ship on the grounds that it couldn’t be sold to a country for breaking, which is outside the purview of European law.
The ship was released after its former owners gave assurances that it was going to be taken to Dubai for a conversion job.
Toxics Watch Alliance (TWA) activist Gopal Krishna has dashed a letter to Dr Dalip Singh, who heads the inter-ministerial committee on ship-breaking and the Union steel ministry, seeking immediate action to stop the ship’s entry.
The SC will hear Krishna’s application on the illegal stay of Platinum-II on February 26.
Under the existing laws, ships containing hazardous material can only be dismantled at properly authorised dismantling facilities in either the EU or an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) country, Krishna says.
While the ship has been “off the radar” for a few weeks, electronic data made available in the past few days showed it positioned off the Dubai coast, says Krishna referring to authentic reports.
Environmental, labour and human rights groups in the UK are following the British government’s actions to persuade Jebel Ali port authorities in Dubai to detain the ship.
By its laws, the UK must recall the vessel and warn the Indian authorities of any imminent breach of the Basel Convention and violation of the European Waste Shipment Regulation. The UK must request India to deny Margaret Hill entry into its territorial waters.
Moreover, under the European Waste Shipment Regulations, the European Commission will ask the UK to recall the ship, and contact the Indian and United Arab Emirate Basel Focal Points to arrest the ship before it sneaks into the Indian waters, where the authorities concerned are likely to welcome this asbestos-laden ship.
Rakesh Bhatnagar / DNA
February 25, 2010
Dead and toxic vessel, Margaret Hill of UK has been sold for 10.2 million USD to Alang's dismantling beach in India, and is expected to shortly leave Dubai. The IMO Number of the vessel is 7368841.
As is usual in the shady business world of the shipping companies, Margaret Hill got permission to leave Southampton under the false premises that it is to be repaired for further operation.
Environmental, labour and human rights groups are following the actions being planned by UK government so that the port authorities of Jebel Ali ensure ship's arrest. It is incumbent on UK to recall the vessel and warn its Indian authorities of the imminent breach of the Basel Convention and violation of the European Waste Shipment Regulation. It must request India to refuse the entry of Margaret Hill into its territorial waters.
It is obvious that European Commission is duty bound to ask the UK of its obligations under the European Waste Shipment Regulation, and contact the Indian and United Arab Emirates Basel Focal Points.
It is believed with regard to ownership question that Waller Marine was the purchaser from Fortess which is owned by Nanak Bajwa. The current owners as per sources are within the UK jurisdiction, therefore, UK government should act to stop the vessel with immediate effect and ensure that it does not land up in India.
Taking cognisance of the violation of EU laws and Basel Convention, in a communication dated February 22, 2010, George Kiayias of European Commission - DG Environment, Unit C2 - Sustainable Production & Consumption, Brussels has reacted saying, "We have been in contact with officials from DEFRA on this who are closely watching the situation. Dubai officials have already been alerted by England's Environment Agency who are currently planning to contact the Indian authorities and alert them as well. We expect to be updated on this matter as more news become available."
Earlier, this vessel was barred from leaving Southampton on August 8, 2009 over suspicions it was heading abroad to be dismantled illegally. It was noted that the action to stop the Margaret Hill leaving the docks is the first time powers have been used to stop a ship from leaving a UK port. The 50,700-tonne liquid natural gas tanker was detained by the UK's Environment Agency. The the ship contains hazardous materials such as asbestos. The official statement of the Environment Agency of UK
is aavailble here:
Under the laws, waste ships containing hazardous materials can only be dismantled at properly authorised dismantling facilities in either the EU or an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) country. They cannot be sent to dismantling facilities in countries outside the EU or OECD such as India.
The hazardous waste/shipbreaking/Platinum II/Margaret Hill matter would come up for hearing on 26 February,2010 before the the Supreme Court bench of Justices Altamas Kabir and Cyriac Joseph. The application with regard to end of life fugitive toxic ship has been filed wherein the prayers include:
-Clarify all the steps that are required to be taken by the Union of India through different Ministries before a ship coming for dismantling, enters the territorial waters keeping in view the orders passed by this Hon’ble Court dt 14.10.2003, 6.9.2007 and 11.9.2007 and various international conventions and environmental principles.
-Direct inquiry by an independent trans-disciplinary investigating agency to ascertain the circumstances of the dead US ship’s arrival in Indian waters, to make concerned officials accountable for their acts of omission and commission and seek a detailed report on more than 700 ships broken in last 4 years and 5000 ships broken since 1982;
-Direct the Inter-ministerial committee on ship-breaking and Gujarat Maritime Board to submit its responses to the environmental, occupational and national security concerns raised in its deliberations before this Hon’ble Court;
-Direct Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Chemicals, Ministry of Steel, Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Shipping to file a report on the status of the violations of Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade and Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).
-Pass such other order and or direction which this Hon’ble Court may deem fit and proper in the facts and circumstance of the case.
The vessel has been sold to Argo Systems for 10.2 million US dollars. It is expected to leave for India shortly from Jebel Ali. Local authorities in Gujarat must be alert against being manipulated to allow beaching at night on some excuse of emergency.
Margaret Hill has provided UK authorities with false information before leaving Southampton and this surely cannot go without appropriate reaction from the Indian authorities in general and the Indian Supreme Court in particular.
The Platform expects that the UK most urgently contacts the port authorities of Jebel Ali and ask for the ships arrest. It is further the UK's duty to call the vessel back and urgently warn its Indian counterparts of the imminent breach of the Basel Convention and violation of the European Waste Shipment Regulation, requesting India for these reasons to refuse the Margaret Hill entry into its territorial waters.
The ship has recently been sold to a cash buyer and will now be scrapped on the beaches of India. The alleged buyer, based in Dubai, has refused to confirm or deny the sale.
This vessel contains large quantities of asbestos and other hazardous substances, was barred from leaving Southampton Docks in August 2009 after reports it was destined for illegal dismantling on the beaches of South Asia.
As per European and international law it is illegal to send ships containing hazardous waste for breaking in developing countries.
The 50,000 tonne liquified natural gas tanker was only given permission to sail from Southampton in December after assurances from its owners that it would not be scrapped. The tanker's owners, New York-based Fortress Investment Group, produced evidence showing that the ship would be sent to Dubai for conversion to a floating gas storage facility.
UK Government has failed to heed its warnings that the ship would end up on beaches in South Asia if they allowed it to leave.
Earlier, Aqaba Express ended up on Indian breaking beaches after assurances were made to the Spanish authorities that it wouldn’t.
An Environment Agency spokesperson said the law did not permit them to take a guaranteeing bond and that since the ship had now left UK shores, it no longer fell under their jurisdiction.
‘We no longer have any direct powers to influence the Margaret Hill's future. The movement of the ship from Dubai is a matter for the Dubai Authorities we will co-operate with them to provide any of the information we have,' the spokesperson said.
Alang beach where ship breaking happens is notorious for human rights and environmental violations. The UN special rapporteur Okechukwu Ibeanu spent 10 days visiting Indian shipyards in January and was ‘shocked’ by the slave like conditions of workers and the callous license to contaminate a beach.
The shipbreaking matter is before the Supreme Court of India.
Earlier, Ministry of Environment & Forests wrote to Interminiterial Committee on Ship breaking for which Steel Ministry is the nodal point in the matter of investigation of the fugitive dead US ship. It also took note of the need for probe into the issue of fake port of registry of the dead ships that entered Indian waters after the Supreme Court's order of 6.9.2007. Shipping companies use corporate veils to avoid liabilities of their end of life ships. The letter is enclosed.