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End of life UK ship's possible arrival in Indian waters?
Dr Dalip Singh
Inter-ministerial Committee on Shipbreaking
Union Ministry of Steel
Government of India
Subject-End of life UK ship's possible arrival in Indian waters
This is with reference to my earlier letters dated 24 February, 2010 and 4th March, 2010 in the matter of an end of life UK Ship that has changed name to avoid detection.
It is to draw your attention to the article below (Mystery surrounds future of impounded ship, 24th March 2010, Daily Echo), as per which the UK's Environment Agency has been in touch with the Indian authorities regarding UK ship Margaret Hill (now named Chill).
This ship has re-registered to the island of Comoros, off the eastern coast of Africa. Comoros is a well-known “flag of convenience” for ship owners to avoid national, EU and UN regulations. Chill (formerly Margaret Hill), a LNG carrier is a tank ship designed for transporting liquefied natural gas (LNG).
I wish to know if you are aware of any information received from UK regarding this dead ship as has been claimed by the UK authorities in UK media.
I have checked with Mr L S Singh, in Steel Ministry and Dr Saroj, the Indian Basel focal point in Ministry of Environment & Forests India and Ms Jacinta Jose, Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Shipping. I been told that they have not received such information.
Currently, the ownership of the ship is an enigma. Now UK claims helplessness saying that the vessel has left UK waters it was out of their jurisdiction and they have no power to take action.
What appears to be a ploy, on 26 March 2010, Lloyd’s List reported that it “understands” that although India was the initial destination, “Margaret Hill will shortly head to China for demolition. Where the ship ultimately ends its days is likely to remain uncertain until it actually arrives at a demolition site.”
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 ship contains hazardous materials such as asbestos.
The official statement of the Environment Agency of UK is available here: http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/news/110207.aspx
This ship was granted permission to depart in October, 2009 after the ships’s owner, Fortress Credit, informed them that the ship would be converted into a floating treatment plant. 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. This fraudulent misrepresentation merits legal action from the UK environment authorities who apparently choose to be gullible and be taken for a ride.
ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA) had written to Alison Gadsby of Environment Agency, UK, George Kiayias, European Commission - DG Environment, Dr Saroj, Basel Focal Point, Union Ministry of Environment & Forests, Government of India bringing to their urgent attention the case of dead and toxic vessel, Margaret Hill of UK that has been sold for 10.2 million USD to Alang's dismantling beach in India. The IMO Number of the vessel is 7368841.
On March 1, 2010, the European Commission official informed TWA saying, "we are investigating the matter and have been in contact with British officials who are closely watching the situation. An assessment on whether a violation of EU legislation has taken place is still ongoing. While the Commission's role is to ensure that Member States properly enforce and apply EU legislation, it is the obligation of the Member States to ensure that economic operators comply with this legislation."
The 36-year-old, 87,600-cbm Margaret Hill (ex- Hoegh Galleon , built 1974), which had been touted as a conversion candidate for a floating LNG (FLNG) project, has been sold to Dubai-based cash buyer Argo Systems for onward sale into India.
UK's Environment Agency detained the ship on the grounds that under European law, the vessel, which contains asbestos and other hazardous substances, could not be sold to a country outside the European Union (EU) for demolition.
The vessel finally left its berth at Southampton in the UK in December, 2010 where it had been effectively laid up for over a year. At the time, industry players voiced their concerns that the ship would eventually go for scrapping.
It is obvious that European Commission is duty bound to ask the UK of its obligations under the European Waste Shipment Regulation.
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 had 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."
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.
In the light of the violation of the EU laws and possible violation of Indian laws, the concerned agencies in India ought to ensure that the obsolete and hazardous ship from UK does not enter Indian waters.
Thank you in advance for responding as soon as possible.
Mr Jairam Ramesh, Union Minister of Environment & Forests , Government of India
Mr G K Wasan , Union Minister of Shipping , Government of India
Dr Saroj, Basel Focal Point, Union Ministry of Environment & Forests, Government of India
Mr L S Singh, Union Ministry of Steel, Government of India
Mr George Kiayias, European Commission - DG Environment, Brussels, Belgium, Tel.: +32 2 29 97 792 - Fax.: +32 2 29 63 980, Email: email@example.com
Ms. Alison Gadsby, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), London
United Kingdom, Tel: (44 20) 72 38 43 33, Efirstname.lastname@example.org
Mr Andy Howarth, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), London
United Kingdom, Tel: (44 20) 72 38 43 33 Eemail@example.com
Mystery surrounds future of impounded ship
24th March 2010
By Peter Law
A SHIP stopped from leaving Southampton last year amid fears it would be illegally scrapped is at the centre of a major international row.
The Daily Echo can reveal the Margaret Hill, pictured below, a liquefied natural gas tanker, may soon be bound for India to be broken up in dangerous conditions.
The Environment Agency (EA) has warned the Indian authorities that the ship could be destined for their shores.
The 249-metre vessel’s name has been changed to “Chill” and it has been re-registered to the island of Comoros, off the eastern coast of Africa.
Anti-shipbreaking campaigners claimed Comoros was a well-known “flag of convenience” for shipowners to avoid regulations and all the evidence points to the tanker being scrapped.
Last year, the EA stopped the ship from leaving Southampton after receiving a tip-off that it could be scrapped in Asia.
After three months of talks, it was granted permission to depart in October, but only after the vessel’s owners, Fortress Credit, promised to put it back into use as a floating treatment plant.
An EA spokesman last night confirmed the conversion plan had collapsed and admitted there were fears it could now be scrapped.
She said ownership of the vessel was now a mystery, but it’s thought the New York investment fund still had some financial interest in it.
“We know that she has been re-registered. What we do not know is where she is going,” the spokesman said.
“We have contacted the authorities in India to make them aware that she may be destined for India for breaking, but there is no confirmation of that.”
Over the past two weeks EA officials lobbied Fortress Credit “to do the right thing”, but the spokesman said the agency was powerless to act.
“As soon as the vessel left UK waters it was out of our jurisdiction,” she said. “We do not have any powers to take action.”
Ingvild Jenssen, director of NGO Platform on Shipbreaking, in Brussels, Belgium, said the ship should have never been allowed to leave the city.
“We clearly warned them from the beginning that there is no market for such a vessel. Everything pointed to it being sold for breaking,” Ms Jenssen said.
Fortress Credit has refused several requests from the Echo to comment on the future of the ship.