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

01/06/2011

Alang Beach, Gujarat Wary of Notorious European Vessel, Gulf Jash

Press Release

Alang Beach, Gujarat Wary of Notorious European Vessel, Gulf Jash

Indian Coast Guards & Indian Navy Must Stop Its Entry in Indian Waters

Supreme Court’s Order Prohibits Entry of Dead Vessels sans Pre-cleaning

European Commission must recall this Toxic vessel


New Delhi 1

June, 2011 –Demanding compliance with Supreme Court’s order which has endorsed UN’s Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), an applicant in the Court demands that the Ministries of Environment & Forests, Shipping and Steel must refuse entry of this 182 meter long hazardous vessel Gulf Jash (ex-Probo Koala) in Indian waters. This vessel is laden with hazardous asbestos, PCBs, toxic paints, fuel and chemical residues and it has been established that it has not been pre-cleaned. The list of hazardous substances is attached.

The ship’s IMO number is 8309816. The picture of the ship is attached.

The ship currently has the flag of Panama. As of 14 May, 2011, the vessel was in Indian Ocean. It last port was Abu Dhabi. Probo Koala was renamed in Gulf Jash in 2007.

TWA has learnt from officials in Alang that Indian Coast Guards and Indian Navy would be the first to know about its possible entry in Indian waters.

Reliable sources suggest that Global Marketing Systems (GMS), a US company specialised in the brokering of vessels for demolition has bought the ship. It is hiding its final destination. It is noteworthy that earlier the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took legal action against Global Marketing Services (GMS) and sister company Global Shipping LLC (GSL), both companies set up by the famous ship-breaking cash buyer Mr. Anil Sharma, for exporting the ship from in violation of the U.S. Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) in past in the matter of Platinum II (ex-SS Oceanic, SS Independence). This US based Cash-Buyer, GMS is trying to deviate the vessel towards Alang beach, India or Gadani beach, Pakistan. GMS is owned by a US citizen of Indian origin. The ownership history is attached.

Prior to this In July 2010, Trafigura, an Amsterdam, Netherlands based transnational company founded in 1993 was found guilty of illegal export of waste from an EU country to states in Africa, Carribean and Pacific. It attempted to deliver goods from onboard the Gulf Jash (ex-Probo Koala) to the Amsterdam port reception facility while concealing their hazardous nature. The court stated that Trafigura knew the waste was toxic and chose to dispose of it at a cheap price. The company was fined 1 million euros but appealed the decision. In 2006, the company Trafigura used the Gulf Jash (ex-Probo Koala) to illegally dump 528 tonnes of toxic waste in Abidjan, the largest city of the Ivory Coast, causing the death of 16 people.

Its registered owner in 2006 was "Celtic Legend Shipping Inc." of Norway. Later, the "beneficial owner" (and manager and operator) is Prime Marine Management, of Athens, Greece. The Probo Koala was chartered by Trafigura LTD, a subsidiary of the NL trading company Trafigura Beheer BV (the parent company of the 55 trading companies operated by Trafigura). Probo Koala's agent in Abidjan was WAIB-CL, and there was an intermediate company, between Trafigura LTD and WAIB-CL, called "Societe Tommy". Tommy was the entity that actually "disposed" of the hundreds of metric tonnes of toxic waste throughout and around the city of Abidjan. The role of Puma Energy (100% owned by Trafigura based in Amstelveen, NL and controlled from Trafigura's Lucerne, Switzerland offices) remains unclear, as does its association with the company, "Tommy" and WAIB-CL, though the Ivorian authorities had arrested those directing each of WAIB-CL, Tommy and Puma Energy. Puma Energy had a local office in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire. On July 2, 2006 the Probo Koala was in Amsterdam where the chartering company of the ship, Trafigura, declined paying higher costs to offload and treat waste that it claimed were residues from routine tank washing operations.

It is a matter if fact that “The multiplicity of private structures intervening in trade and maritime transport (flag, owner, ship owner, charterer, manager, consignee, emptier, etc) and the vagueness presiding voluntarily or involuntarily in the allocation of roles and responsibilities meant that a huge amount of time was wasted in investigations. Nowadays, maritime activity is increasingly an activity where opacity in actions remains significant, in particular in the high seas, outside the territorial waters of each State.” (Report of Committee on Toxic Waste in Abidjan, Ivory Coast Attached).

Dutch authorities had allowed the ship to sail unimpeded. Under the Basel Convention the responsibility for the dumping of wastes should be tied to the generator of the hazardous wastes; the exporter of the wastes (charterer Trafigura) or to the country of export.

Under EU law, exports of hazardous wastes from the EU to non-OECD countries are strictly prohibited.

TWA demands that European Commission must engage the European Union law enforcement organisation EUROPOL to coordinate member states' activities in order to prevent the ship, its captain, owners and operators escaping prosecution. EUROPOL is the European Law Enforcement Organisation which exists to improve the effectiveness and co-operation of the competent authorities in the Member States in preventing and combating terrorism and other serious forms of international organised crime.

This vessel must be denied entry. TWA demands that the European Commission must recall this vessel to Europe in compliance with the October 2006 European Parliament Resolution.
Indian environmental borders have been compromised with enormous amounts of hazardous wastes and ships waste moving inside our borders to exploit cost externalization possibilities and in the process exploit fragile coastal environment of Alang beach in Bhavnagar, Gujarat.
The hazardous wastes/shipbreaking matter came up for hearing in the Supreme Court on May 25, 2011. The vacation bench of Justice G S Singhvi and Justice Chandramauli Kr Prasad observed, "Why don't they break these ships in their own countries," Justice Singhvi asked, adding "If there is a threat to environment, then this court will intervene". TWA welcomes the observations of the bench.

TWA will apprise the court and pray for its intervention if the Ministries of Environment & Forests, Shipping and Steel do not stop the entry of this end-of life vessel laden with hazardous wastes and toxic materials. The next date of hearing in the Supreme Court is on 5th July, 2011.

TWA holds that any vessel that has been rejected by a neighbouring country must be rejected in India well. The vessel’s entry has been banned in Bangladesh in May 2011.

This vessel cannot be allowed entry because India is a party to the UN treaty on hazardous wastes and the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention will be held at Cartagena de Indias, Colombia from 17 -21 October 2011. The Convention was initiated in response to numerous international scandals regarding hazardous waste trafficking that began to occur in the late 1980s. The Convention entered into force on 5 May 1992 with its Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland. It is eminently clear that the Basel Ban is needed now more than at any point since the Convention was adopted. In the Third Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention (COP3) in September 1995 made an amendment to include the request of the G-77 countries including India for the total ban on all exports of hazardous wastes from Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries to non-OECD countries that was passed by consensus and came to be known as the Basel Ban Amendment.

TWA has been warning concerned authorities to abandon the Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with countries like EU and Japan who have been promoting hazardous wastes trade along with countries such as US, Germany, and the UK.
The Basel Ban amendment effectively banned as of 1 January 1998, all forms of hazardous waste exports from the 29 wealthiest most industrialized countries of the (OECD to all non-OECD countries. In order for the Ban amendment to enter the force of law it will need to be ratified by 62 of the Basel Parties. The Basel Ban has been ratified by 70 countries (Parties to the Convention). For entry into force of the Ban Amendment, only the official deposits equalling 63 of the 62 are needed (representing 3/4ths of the 82 Parties present at COP3). India must ratify it to safe guard its environment for the sake of intergeneration equity instead of pursuing the path of FTAs with countries EU and Japan or International Maritime Organisation (IMO)’s ship recycling convention which is anti- environment, anti-worker and anti-human rights.

In such a backdrop, Supreme Court’s observations of May 2011 are reminiscent of what the head of the Indian delegation, said at the first Conference of the Parties (COP 1) to the Basel Convention in 1992, in Uruguay. Requesting industrialized countries to refrain from exporting hazardous wastes to developing countries, he said, "You industrialized countries have been asking us to do many things for the global good – to stop cutting down our forests, to stop using your CFC’s – now we are asking you to do something for the global good – keep your own waste." India should revive its exemplary position on the matter of waste trade and take the ship-breaking activity off the Alang beach, which at present appears to have been outsourced for ship owning countries and companies to contaminate the coastal environment for ever ridiculing Coastal Regulation Zone.

In the 58 page Draft Code on Regulations for Safe and Environmentally Sound Ship Recycling, having studied the Draft it is matter of relief that Ministry of Steel is making sincere efforts to comply with the Supreme Court order of 14th October, 2003 and 6th September 2007 to protect the fragile coastal environment of Alang Beach. In Chapter 3 of the Code at Section 3.1.2 there is mention of "dry dock" method for ship recycling among others. And in Chapter 6 of the Code at Section 6.6.1 (a) there is reference to Coastal Regulation Zone-1991 which has decreed the following regulation on 19th February 1991 under the reference Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification, “For regulating development activities, the coastal stretches within 500 metres of the high tide line of the landward side are classified into 4 categories. Paragraph 2 of the Notification lists out the 'Prohibited activities and exceptions' The activities declared as prohibited within the CRZ, namely, Para 2 (ii) states, " manufacture, handling, storage or disposal of hazardous substances as specified in the 'Notifications of the Government of India in the Ministry of Environment and Forests' No. S.O. 594 (E) dated 28th July 1989, S.O. 996 (E) dated 27th November 1989 and G.S.R. 1037 (E) dated 5th December 1989. Para 2 (v) states, “discharge of untreated wastes and effluents from industries, cities towns and other human settlements." Clearly, there is a case for revisiting the conditional environmental clearance given to the ship-breaking industrial activity on Alang beach, which is attracting vessels like Gulf Jash (ex-Probo Koala).

Besides stopping the entry of this end-of-life hazardous vessel in Indian waters, it would be apt for the Indian authorities to verify the documents of some 120 ships which are currently on the Alang beach and forewarn the Pakistani authorities about the harmful ramifications of allowing such a ship in their territory well.

For Details: Gopal Krishna, ToxicsWatch Alliance, Mb: 9818089660,
E-mail: toxicswatchalliance@gmail.com, Web: imowatch.blogspot.com
http://www.shipbreakingplatform.org
Greenpeace reports on the Probo Koala:
http://www.greenpeace.nl/reports/coplaint-dutch-advertising-cod/
http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/toxics/trafigura/

FIDH report on the Probo Koala:
http://fidh.org/IMG/pdf/FIDH-LIDHO-MIDH_Rapport_ProboKoala_avril2011.pdf

UN Special Rapporteur Report on the investigation into the dumping of waste in Ivory Coast:
http://bit.ly/iiZi9I

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