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Central panel urged to stop entry of UK toxic ship

Controversial LNG carrier Margaret Hill may come to Alang for dismantling
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.

Hiral Dave
Feb 26, 2010

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