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

16/03/2010

BLOCK ILLEGAL EXPORT OF TOXIC SHIPS

TOXIC TRADE WATCHDOG WARNS KUWAIT TO BLOCK ILLEGAL EXPORT OF TOXIC SHIPS

10 March 2009 (Kuwait) -The Basel Action Network (BAN), a toxic trade watchdog and member organization of the NGO Platform on Shipbreaking, warned the Government of Kuwait today that three Kuwaiti flagged ships called the Al Awdah (IMO# 9004803), Al Tahreer (IMO# 9016868), and Al Shuhadaa (IMO# 9013311) that are owned and operated by Kuwait Oil Tanker Co SAK, a subsidiary of Kuwait Petroleum Corporation and owned by the Government of Kuwait, may very soon be exported from Kuwaiti waters destined for the shipbreaking beaches of Pakistan, Bangladesh or India in contravention of the United Nations Basel Convention. Industry insiders, as well as the trade journal database Sea-Web, lists these ships as going for scrap.

These ships are suspected of containing high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), asbestos and other hazardous wastes within their construction. Exporting these vessels for scrapping on the beaches of South Asia would be a violation of the United Nations Basel Convention, which controls the transboundary movement of hazardous waste, such as PCBs and asbestos and their disposal. It is illegal for a party to the Basel Convention such as Kuwait, to transport a contaminated vessel to a Basel party state, such as Pakistan, Bangladesh or India, without prior notification and consent; it is also illegal for such vessels to be transported without a full inventory and accounting of the hazardous waste materials they contain; and finally, it is illegal to export ships to facilities that do not maintain environmentally sound management.

It is well known that the beach breaking yards of Pakistan, India and Bangladesh are not capable of managing the disposal of hazardous wastes to fully protect human health and the environment. As a result, Bangladesh recently passed new legislation requiring vessels to be fully remediated of toxic materials prior to entering their waters for scrapping; India is also likely to follow suit.

"BAN calls on the Government of Kuwait, who has clear jurisdiction in this matter, to retain these vessels and uphold the principles of the Basel Convention. A government owned oil corporation exporting hazardous waste to the developing world is unacceptable," said Colby Self of the Basel Action Network.

Transfer of vessel ownership to the United Eastern Trading Company, a known cashbuyer and shipbreaker, is likely to close without delay. The vessels are believed to be at Mina Al Ahmadi (still unconfirmed as of this release) in Kuwait and could sail in a matter of hours. The vessels should be sampled for PCBs and asbestos and fully remediated prior to leaving Kuwait.

For more information contact:

Colby Self of Basel Action Network

+001 206 250 5652

cself@ban.org

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Letter sent to Basel Convention Competent Authority of Kuwait

Dr. Mohammad Abdu Rahman Al-Sarawi
Director General
Environment Public Authority
P.O. Box 24395
Safat 13104
Kuwait


Dear Dr. Mohammad Abdu Rahman Al-Sarawi, Competent Authority for Kuwait to the Basel Convention:

We, the Basel Action Network (BAN), and member organization of the NGO Platform on Shipbreaking, are writing to express grave concern that three Kuwaiti flagged ships called the Al Awdah (IMO# 9004803), Al Tahreer (IMO# 9016868), and Al Shuhadaa (IMO# 9013311) formerly owned and operated by Kuwait Oil Tanker Co SAK, a subsidiary of Kuwait Petroleum Corporation and owned by the Government of Kuwait, may very soon be exported from Kuwaiti waters or United Arab Emirate waters destined for the shipbreaking beaches of Pakistan, Bangladesh or India in contravention of the Basel Convention. The trade journal database Sea-Web (www.sea-web.com) lists these ships as going for scrap. Thus under the Basel Convention definitions, these ships are waste.

These ships are suspected of containing high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), asbestos and other hazardous wastes within their construction. Exporting these ships to Pakistan, Bangladesh or India for scrapping on the beaches of South Asia would be a violation of the United Nations Basel Convention, which controls the transboundary movement of hazardous waste, such as PCBs and asbestos and their disposal. It is illegal for a party to the Basel Convention such as Kuwait, to transport a contaminated vessel to a Basel party state, such as Pakistan, Bangladesh or India, without prior notification and consent; it is also illegal for such vessels to be transported without a full inventory and accounting of the hazardous waste materials they contain; and finally, it is illegal to export ships to facilities that do not maintain environmentally sound management. It is well known that the beach breaking yards of Pakistan, India and Bangladesh are not currently able to "take all practicable steps to ensure that hazardous wastes and other wastes are managed in a manner which will protect human health and the environment".

Basel Convention Decision VII/26 states: "Noting that a ship may become waste as defined in article 2 of the Basel Convention and that at the same time it may be defined as a ship under other international rules," and additionally calls upon all Parties, with respect to ships as waste, " to fulfil their obligations under the Basel Convention, where applicable, in particular their obligations with respect to prior informed consent, minimization of transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and the principles of environmentally sound management..."

Also of note, Bangladesh recently passed new legislation requiring vessels to be fully remediated of toxic materials prior to entering their waters for scrapping; India is also likely to follow suit.

The Government of Kuwait has jurisdiction over the Al Awdah, Al Tahreer and Al Shuhadaa and should treat them as waste under the definitions of the Basel Convention. The vessels should be sampled for PCBs and asbestos and fully remediated prior to leaving Kuwait or the United Arab Emirates. This is a matter of urgency as transfer of ownership to United Eastern Trading Company, a known cashbuyer and shipbreaker, is likely to close without delay and the ships could sail in a matter of hours. The vessels are believed to be at Mina Al Ahmadi, however the vessels may also be located at anchorage in the United Arab Emirates.

We reserve the right to pass this information to the global press.


Background

The Al Awdah, Al Tahreer and Al Shuhadaa were constructed in South Korea in 1991 and 1992 and likely contain polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and asbestos within their construction. South Korea first enforced legislation in 1979 banning liquid PCBs in heaters with the Electricity Business Act; however PCB were allowed to be used in other materials until 1996 when they were banned by the Toxic Chemicals Control Act. Therefore, there is a strong likelihood that these vessels contain PCBs, a regulated material under the Basel Convention.

Further, asbestos was widely used as a fire-resistant insulation material in ship building yards in South Korea. Only as recently as 2009 did South Korea enact a law to prohibit the manufacture, import, and use of all asbestos. The vessels named above likely contain high volumes of asbestos within their construction.

We ask for your immediate attention and swift action to uphold the principles of the Basel Convention and retain these ships and prevent them from being delivered from Kuwait. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me directly.

Sincerely,

Mr. Jim Puckett[] and Mr. Colby Self
Basel Action Network

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