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

22/02/2010

Toxic Ship:UK Govt. Guilty of Connivance

Even as Margaret Hill, a gas tanker is all set to reach the once pristine beaches of Alang, Bhavnagar, Gujarat in India for ship-breaking, the UK Government says it is powerless to stop this toxic tanker.

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.

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