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

02/06/2011

GMB, Customs Admit Inability to Verify Fake Documents of Ship Owners

Note: Relieable sources have revealed that Gulf Jash, ex- Probo Koala, is anchored in Halong Bay, Vietnam. An anonymous source has claimed that "the cashbuyer will try to beach the vessel no matter what the government or environmental agencies think. Please note sir, that the timing is important. With the monsoon about to hit the breaking yards the Gujarat Maritime Board issues a precautionary warning to all vessels waiting to take shelter or take necessary action to avoid collision. Taking this opportunity GMS is going to deliberately ground the vessel close to the breaking yards. Then the issue becomes of wreck removal rather than braking, thus making it all legal." It merits further verification but this gives a sense of deja vu. This what happened in the case of dead European vessel SS Blue Lady (ex SS Norway, SS France) and in the case of dead US vessel Platinum II (ex-MV Oceanic, SS Independence). In the case of US toxic ship, Environment Ministry's Office Memorandum (9th November, 2009) with the explicit sanction of the Union Environment Minister has been outwitted by GMB and DG Shipping, Ministry of Shipping because of the blessings of a senior Congressmen. Will the Ministry order a probe into what happened to Platinum II and its fake documents?

As per PTI release Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh sought a "factual report" from Gujarat Government following reports that a toxic-laden ship is headed towards the state's shores for dismantling after being denied entry in Bangladesh. "Yes, I have asked the state Government for a factual report," he told PTI when asked about reports that the ship is headed for Alang Ship Breaking Yard in Gujarat after being banned in Bangladesh. The Ministry reacted in a similar manner in the case of Platinum II but did not take its findings to its logical conclusion because Platinum II (ex-MV Oceanic, SS Independence) remains in Indian waters revealing the structural weakness of the Environment Ministry. Therefore, its response does not inspire confidence. Will the Ministry ever act to combat the menace of fake documents or will choose to be outwitted once again? Is the Ministry aware that most of the 120 ships currently on Alang beach have entered Indian waters on fake documents?

Gopal Krishna
ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)

Press Release

GMB, Customs Admit their Inability to Verify Fake Documents of Ship Owners

TWA Demands that documents of Dead Ships Currently on Alang Beach be Probed

Its Official, Supreme Court’s Order on Shipbreaking Violated


New Delhi, 2/6/2011: In an Office Memorandum No.29-3/2009-HSMD, Government of India, Ministry of Environment & Forests, (HSM Division) dated 9th May, 2011 relating to implementation of Supreme Court directions in respect of ship breaking activities, it has been admitted that the issue regarding the submission of fake certificates by the ship owners/agents remains unresolved. The Memorandum is attached.

Consequently, the identity of ship owners like those of Gulf Jash, an end-of-life European vessel remains hidden behind corporate veils. In the matter of toxic US ship Platinum II (Ex-SS Independence, MV Oceanic), ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA) had provided documentary evidence of fake documents to the Environment Ministry which was referred to the Ministry of Steel. It wrote a letter to Shri S. Machendranathan Chiarman, Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on shipbreaking (constituted by Supreme Court’s 14th October, 2003 order) drawing his attention to non-compliance with the Court’s order and the issue of the hazardous and dead European vessel on 1st June, 2011 (the letter is given below). The copies of the letter have been sent to the Union Ministers of Environment and Shipping and other senior officials.

It has come to light from the Office Memorandum dated May 2011 that Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF)’s Standing Monitoring Committee (SMC) on Shipbreaking has suggested that since Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) and Customs were not able to verify the authenticity/genuineness of ship’s registry/flag in the fast in respect of some ships referred to them, this task in respect of each ship may be referred to the Directorate General Shipping, Ministry of Shipping ought to undertake such verification henceforth. The GMB officials informed MoEF that “the suggestion of the committee is acceptable to them subject to such verification by DG Shipping is done within a period of 2 working days. If no information is received from the DG Shipping within 2 working days, it will be presumed that the certificate submitted is authentic and genuine.” TWA disapproves of such presumption of genuineness of fabricated documents. It demands that documents of some 120 dead ships currently on Alang Beach, Bhavnagar, Gujarat must be investigated.

The Committee observed that “at present there is no single point access to the yards and therefore, hazardous waste is being illegally dumped at various places. It was suggested to have a single point access to the yards in order stop such illegal dumping activity.”

It has come to light from the report of the site visit of the committee that they visited the existing Hazardous Waste Treatment, Storage & Disposal Facility (TSDF) site and it was observed that the existing cell is almost full. TWA has confirmed it from the sources in the ship breaking industry that the TSDF is full. The report of the site visit by SMC is attached.
Before it was filled up Gujarat Enviro Protection and Infrastructure Ltd (GEPIL), Alang Unit has been operating and maintaining Common Hazardous waste TSDF on behalf of GMB, since October’ 2005.The site was constructed and developed by GMB. GEPIL was awarded this TSDF for Operation and Maintenance through competitive Bidding Process in September’ 2005. Its total Notified Area is 7 hectares. The site is situated at Alang Ship breaking yard. It is designed to collect, transport, Receipt, Store, treat and dispose off wide range of hazardous waste. GEPIL (Alang Unit) is also associated with Sweeping, collection, transportation, treatment and disposal of Municipal wastes generated during the ship breaking activities. GEPIL (Unit Alang) has been providing its services to more than 80 industries of region. The facility receives wastes from Ship breaking and Ship recycling industrial sectors. In its myopia GMB has suggested that “they may raise the height of the embankment of the cell and compress the existing material to enhance its capacity within designed parameters. This work needs to be taken up on urgent basis to ensure that this facility is available to shipbreakers at the existing site at least for another one year.”

TWA disapproves of creation such facilities for hazardous wastes that originated in developed countries. The million dollar question is that even if this is done what happens after one year and the year thereafter. Will Bhavnagar become a Hazardous Waste TSDF capital for the ship owning companies and countries in order to appear vibrant to the developed world?

Given the emergency situation that has emerged for the GMB, the SMC informed to the stakeholders that without the TSDF facility the shipbreaking activities should not be allowed by the GPCB as per the Supreme Court directions. It is evident to TWA that the shipbreaking activity that is currently in operation is happening in the absence of TSDF, thus, in clear violation of the Court’s directions.

SMC has recommended that “ship breaking yard shall not commence breaking of the ship till such time proper decontamination certificate is issued by GPCB after thorough inspection.” This recommendation does not take cognizance of Hon'ble Court's order that reads, "(16) At the international level, India should participate in international meetings on ship-breaking at the level of the International Maritime Organisation and the Basel Convention's Technical Working Group with a clear mandate for the decontamination of ships of their hazardous sub-stances such as asbestos, waste oil, gas and PCBs, prior to export to India for breaking." One of the fourteen Terms of Reference on which the High Powered Committee was to give its report and recommendations "Decontamination of ships before they are exported to India for breaking.” The apex court's order endorsed Basel Convention. (Order is attached).

SMC has suggested that monitoring of asbestos in ambient air at shipbreaking yards on Alang beach “shall be commissioned by GMB for carrying out the same by a reputed institute like NIOH, as a one time study.” TWA has been demanding that asbestos cannot be handled safely or in a controlled manner. Therefore, International Labour Organisation’s resolution of June 2006 and World Health Organisation’s resolution of 2005 seek elimination of future use of asbestos. Indian workers in general and migrant workers of Alang should not be made to handle asbestos under any situation.

TWA demands that Gujarat Pollution Board (GPCB) should make the study for sea water and sediment analysis public so that the extent of pollution at Alang beach can be comprehended.
Standing Monitoring Committee (SMC) on Shipbreaking comprises of (1) Dr. M. Subba Rao, Director, MoEF, (2) Shri B. R. Naidu, Scientist-D and Zonal Officer, CPCB, Vadodara (3) Shri B. D. Ghosh, Addl. Industrial Adviser, Ministry of Steel, (4) Capt. J. S. Uppal, Principal Officer, Mercantile Marine Department, DG Shipping, (5) Dr. S. R. Tripathi, Asstt. Director, NIOH, and (6) Dr. R. R. Tiwari, Scientist-C, NIOH. SMC visited the Ship Breaking Yards on Alang beach on 24th January, 2011.

TWA demands that the funds collected by GMB and Steel Ministry’s Ferrous Scrap Committee (FSC) must be used for remediation and decontamination of Alang beach and for workers and villagers’ environmental and occupational health rights.
For Details: Gopal Krishna, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), Mb: 9818089660, E-mail: krishna2777@gmail.com, Blog: imowatch.blogspot.com, Web: www.toxicswatch.com


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Gopal Krishna
Date: Wed, Jun 1, 2011 at 7:23 PM
Subject: Non-compliance of Supreme Court Order on Ship Breaking
To: asfasteel@nic.in
Cc: jairam54 , gkvasan@sasnsad.nic.in,
t.chatterjee@nic.in, secy-shipping@nic.in, m.mehrishi@nic.in,
jp.shukla@nic.in, Rajiv Gauba , sarojmoef < sarojmoef@yahoo.com>, pknag@nioh.org, pranabnag@yahoo.com, nioh@nioh.org,
aasharma_env@yahoo.com, eembvr-gmb@gujarat.gov.in,
eemdbvr-gmb@gujarat.gov.in, ms-gpcb@gujarat.gov.in, gpcb-bav@gujarat.gov.in,
cusdiv-bvr@nic.in, commi-labour@gujarat.gov.in, sbagnihotri@dgshipping.com,
jasjeetsuppal@vsnl.net, mmdkandla_1@dataone.in, barun.deb@nic.in,
fasli@dgfasli.nic.in, bvbabu.cpcb@nic.in, tripathinioh@yahoo.co.in,
srtripathi@nioh.org, Claude Alvares , Sanjay Parikh


To

Shri S. Machendranathan
Chiarman
Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on shipbreaking
Union Ministry of Steel
Government of India
New Delhi

Subject-Non-compliance of Supreme Court Order on Ship Breaking

Sir,

With reference to news reports in The Times of India and Hindustan Times
dated 1st June, 2011 in the matter of European toxic ship Gulf Jash
(ex-Probo Koala), the letter dated 9th may, 2011 sent to your ministry
by Hazardous Substances Management Division, Ministry of Environment &
Forests and pursuant to my earlier letters to IMC on shipbreaking, I wish to
draw your attention towards the formation of a Standing Monitoring Committee
on Shipbreaking by the Environment Ministry to monitor/review compliance to
the recommendations of the Committee of Technical Experts (CTE) and the
Hon’ble Supreme Court directions dated 6.9.2007 on ship breaking activities
in the country.

It appears that Standing Monitoring Committee on Shipbreaking is
duplicating the work being done by Hon'ble Supreme Court
constituted Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on shipbreaking by it order
dated 14th October, 2003. While I appreciate that IMC has ensured that the
minutes of its meeting are uploaded on Steel Ministry's website, I am quite
eager read the minutes of the last meeting of IMC that was held in early
2011 as I wish to make submission prior to the next meeting of IMC on 8th
July, 2011. I must submit that since its formation till date IMC has not
submitted its Action Taken Report to the Hon'ble Court. It is about time it
did so.

I have also learnt that the Standing Monitoring Committee visited Alang
Shipbreaking Yards on 24th January, 2011 and held meetings to review the
present status of compliance to the recommendations of the CTE and the
directions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court.
I am attaching the letter dated 9th may, 2011 and the Standing Monitoring
Committee's site visit report for your perusal and consideration. From the
report of the Standing Monitoring Committee on Shipbreaking, it is clear
that Hon'ble Court order has not been complied with.

I wish to draw your attention towards one very core aspect of the Hon'ble
Court's order that reads, "(16) At the international level, India should
participate in international meetings on ship-breaking at the level of the
International Maritime Organisation and the Basel Convention's Technical
Working Group with a clear mandate for the decontamination of ships of their
hazardous sub-stances such as asbestos, waste oil, gas and PCBs, prior to
export to India for breaking." One of the fourteen Terms of Reference on
which the High Powered Committee was to give its report and recommendations
"Decontamination of ships before they are exported to India for breaking.”
The apex court's order endorsed Basel Convention. (Order is attached). I am
also attaching a UN report that refers to the situation at Alang beach and
Basel Convention's Guidelines for Dismantling of Ships.

I submit that IMC should seek compliance with Hon'ble Supreme Court’s order
that endorsed UN’s Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary
Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal from the Ministries of
Environment & Forests, Shipping and Steel and Gujarat Maritime Board.

In the specific case of 182 meter long hazardous vessel Gulf Jash (ex-Probo
Koala) which is reported to be on the way to Indian waters, IMC must
recommend refusal of entry to this vessel that 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.

I wish to inform that 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.

It is apprehended 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.

I submit that 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.

As you are aware that 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).

It is noteworthy that 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.

I submit 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. European Commission must recall this vessel to Europe in
compliance with the October 2006 European Parliament Resolution.

I submit that 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.

I wish to draw your attention towards the hazardous wastes/shipbreaking
matter that 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". This observations of the bench are quite welcome.

I submit that 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.

I submit 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
by indulging in linguistic corruption.

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.

I submit that 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." It is clearly that
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).

In view of the above, I submit that 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.


I will be glad share more information.

Thanking You

Yours faithfully
Gopal Krishna,
Convener
ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)
New Delhi
Mb: 9818089660,

E-mail: toxicswatchalliance@gmail.com

Blog: imowatch.blogspot.com
Web: www.toxicswatch.com

Cc/

Union Minister of Environment & Forests
Union Minister of Shipping
Secretary, Ministry of Environment & Forests
Secretary, Ministry of Shipping
Additional Secretary, Ministry of Environment & Forests (HSMD)
Joint Secretary, Ministry of Environment & Forests (HSMD)
Joint Secretary, Ministry of Steel
Dr Saroj, Director, Ministry of Environment & Forests
Members of Standing Monitoring Committee on Shipbreaking
Dr Claude Alvares, Member, Supreme Court's Monitoring Committee (SCMC) on
Hazardous Wastes

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