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

26/10/2011

Ship breaking spoiling environment in Gadani

Ship breaking with out safety measures at Gadani is hazardous to health and spoiling environment

Nasir Mansoor,Deputy General Secretary of National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) and Bashir Ahmed Mehmoodani, President Ship Breaking Democratic Workers Union, Gadani have drew the attention of governmental environmental agency and other concern departments towards the deteriorating and alarming environmental situation which plying havocs with the lives of thousands of workers at Gadani Ship breaking yards.

The ships and oil tankers which were anchored by the owners at Gadani beach for dismantling never heed to the demands of workers representatives to observe the safety measure for the protection of workers and environment and ecology of the area. The anti environment activities have been going on with out any consideration which become harm full for the health of workers and also for the population lives near by.

The trade union leaders stated that recently an "Oil Tanker" named "WENJIANG" has been dismantling at yard number 54 owned by M/S Seth A. Gafoor. The oil tanker is leaked and oil is spreading on the beach and nearly one kilometer of the radius has been covered with the dirty oil.

More than 500 workers are working on breaking the ship (oil tanker) and they all complained of severe skin allergies and acute respiratory problem due to widespread oil smell in the environ.

Nasir Mansoor and Bashir Mehmoodani demanded observance of international environmental protection standards and workers safety measures in ship breaking sector in Gadani. They also demanded to stop the dismantling the oil tanker "Wenjiang" which omitted the hazardous oil in the sea water and to held inquiry on the issue in detail.

Nasir Mansoor
03003587211
www.ntufpak.org

21/10/2011

UN MEET FOR BAN ON HAZARDOUS WASTE EXPORT TO POOR COUNTRIES

PRESS RELEASE

TWA Welcomes Breakthrough in Cartagena, Colombia on UN Hazardous Waste Treaty

INDIA SUPPORTS BAN AMENDMENT TO TREATY ON HAZARDOUS WASTE

UN MEET FOR BAN ON HAZARDOUS WASTE EXPORT TO POOR COUNTRIES

New Delhi October 22, 2011 – Incessant diplomatic efforts resulted in the world witnessing a turning point at the 10th Conference of the Parties of the UN’s Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, as 178 countries which are Parties to it agreed to allow an early entry into force of law of the Basel Ban Amendment that prohibits all exports of hazardous wastes, including electronic wastes and old obsolete ships from rich to poor countries like India.

This happened as a result of an initiative by Indonesia and Switzerland with the support of environmental groups. Now if 17 more Parties from those countries that were Parties during COP3 ratify the Ban Amendment, it will enter into force.
ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA) urges Government of India to take the lead in ratifying it and persuading other relevant countries to do so prior to the next Conference of Parties. So far 71 countries have ratified the amendment. Prior to COP10, TWA had written to Ministries of Environment, Commerce and Steel to support Ban Amendment. In a letter to Ms. Mira Mehrishi, Additional Secretary, Hazardous Substances Management Division, Ministry of Environment and Forests, it had demanded that India should ratify the Ban Amendment to ban hazardous waste trade

China, the European Union, and developing countries strongly supported the Ban Amendment. Traditional opponents of the amendment like Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and India changed their stance for the entry into force of the 1995 treaty. The USA has also opposed but is not a Party of the Convention. Ahead of the upcoming hearing in the Supreme Court, Government of India’s support for Ban Amendment is a step in the right direction.

Basel Convention has regained its original mandate to regulate shipbreaking not the International Maritime Organisation’s Hong Kong Convention given the fact that rate of disposal of end of life ships on Alang beach, Gujarat, Chittagong beach, Bangladesh and Gadani, Pakistan has gathered momentum unmindful of the death of migrant, casual and vulnerable workers and the ongoing contamination of South Asian beaches.

It is hoped that it will pave the way for eliminating all hazardous waste through adoption of substitutes of hazardous materials, Green Design, Clean Production based on Life Cycle Assessment.

The Basel Ban Amendment was originally adopted in 1995 as a proposed amendment to the Basel Convention but has recently been stalled due to uncertainty as to how to interpret the Convention. Now following a diplomatic working group known as the Country Led Initiative, it has been decided that the Ban Amendment will go into force when 68 of the 90 countries that were Parties to the Convention in 1995, ratify the agreement. Currently, 51 of these have ratified the amendment, leaving just 17 more needed. At present there are 178 Parties to the Convention.

“Finally, the blockade has been lifted and the Basel Ban that has been held hostage now for many years is liberated,” said Jim Puckett, Executive Director of the Basel Action Network who was present in Cartagena. “The Ban Amendment ensures that developing countries are not convenient dumping grounds for toxic factory waste, obsolete ships containing asbestos, or old computers coming from affluent countries. It enforces the Basel Convention obligation that all countries manage their own hazardous waste.”

It is important that Parties disagreed that the International Maritime Organization’s Hong Kong Convention on ship recycling, provided an equivalent level of control to that of the Basel Convention. The Hong Kong Convention has no motive of minimizing the movement of hazardous ships to poor countries. The Basel Convention ought to act proactively to prevent the dumping of end-of-life ships on the beaches of poor countries like India.

As of now 33 of the 41 developed countries to which the hazardous waste export ban applies have implemented it nationally. Commenting on the Indonesian-Swiss country-led initiative to improve the effectiveness of the Basel Convention, USA had argued ‘whether it is appropriate for a Convention body to seek to define terms such as “second hand goods” and “used goods” and its reference to “specific arrangements that can be applied to used and end of life goods” while expressing its support to combat illegal traffic in wastes, and had suggested that term "vulnerable countries” be replaced with “certain countries”.

COP-10’s decision will exert diplomatic pressure on countries such as USA that never ratified the treaty. They will have to accept the ban as an integral part of the Convention after its entry in to force.

Earlier, Waste without Frontiers: Global trends in generation and transboundary movement of hazardous wastes and other wastes (http://www.basel.int/pub/ww-frontiers26Jan2010.pdf), a 36 page study by Basel Convention Secretariat provided a glimpse of the global trends on the generation and transboundary movements of hazardous and other wastes produced under the Convention in its first 21 years of existence. TWA hopes that waste will stop following the path of least resistance due to this treaty.

Dr. Frank Pearl, the Colombian Environment Minister, the host reminded that the next generation will at some point come knocking at our door. Responding to it, we have heard the knock, we have opened the door, we have looked into the faces and eyes of our future progeny and we have answered their plea. The Draft Cartagena Declaration on hazardous wastes and other wastes is attached.

TWA appreciates the work of BAN and other environmental organizations which worked towards this end.

For Details: Gopal Krishna, TWA, Mb: 9818089660, E-mail: krishna2777@gmail.com,
Web: toxicswatch.blogpsot.com
Jim Puckett in Cartagena: Phone: +57 3155483958, E-mail: jpuckett@ban.org
For background Documents on COP10 Basel Meeting: Visit: ban.org (Meetings, COP10 Section), basel.int

UNEP attempts to create a regime for free trade in waste, condemnable

Press Release

CBI Should Probe Hazardous Wastes Trade: Supreme Court Monitoring Committee

UNEP attempts to create a regime for free trade in waste, condemnable

10th Meeting of UN’s Basel Convention to Concludes today

Supreme Court to hear Hazardous Waste Case on November 15


New Delhi/21/10/2011: Global hazardous waste trade treaty’s 10th conference of parties (COP 10) dwelt on a path forward on the Ban Amendment to UN’s Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal but under tremendous influence of hazardous waste traders it emerged that it wants to “turn wastes into valuable resources” in order to make it a “non new good” contrary to Supreme Court’s order.

On October 18, 2011, India called for further discussions of the legal interpretation of Article 17(5) in a contact group instead of calling for voting on the issue to ensure that Ban Amendment comes into force. EU’s support for the Ban Amendment appeared suspect as it continued to support International Maritime Organisation (IMO)’s treaty on Ship Recycling/Shipbreaking (Hong Kong Convention) that does not ban imports of hazardous wastes laden end-of-life vessels and India-EU Free Trade Agreement on October 19. Both Indian environmental groups and Indian shipbreaking industry oppose IMO's treaty as anti-worker and anti-environment but Government of India seems to be representing someone else in this regard.

The Supreme Court’s bench of Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice H L Gokhale passed an October 11, 2011 saying, “...many of the directions given and contained in the judgment delivered on 14th October, 2003, reported in (2005)10 SCC 510, along with the recommendations of the Monitoring Committee which had been constituted by this Court by virtue of the said judgment, are yet to be complied with, we direct the respondent, Union of India/Government of India to consider the report of the Monitoring Committee prepared by Dr. D.B. Boralkar and Dr. Claude Alvares, the directions contained at page 541 of the aforesaid judgment and a copy of the submissions filed on behalf of the writ petitioner on 21st September, 2011, and to prepare a note as to what steps have been taken to implement the directions and, if the same have not been implemented, as to why the same have not been implemented. While considering the aforesaid report and judgment, the Government of India shall also consider the other judgment in the same matter reported in (2005) 13 SCC 186. Let this matter be adjourned till 15th November, 2011...” The order is attached. The Basel Convention which has been adopted by the Supreme Court of India seeks national legislation, national reporting and enforcement to mitigate illegal trafficking of hazardous wastes.

The report of Boralkar and Alvares, the members of the Supreme Court Monitoring Committee on Hazardous Wastes has recommended investigation by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to get to the bottom of the ongoing trade in hazardous wastes. The report and pictures are available here: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/6179856/SCMC%20BC%20March%203%202007.pdf
It is noteworthy that Interpol has a Pollution & Environment Crime Working group, India also needs one. World Customs Organisation enforces six multilateral environmental treaties with its help.

It has been reported that Article X-15 of the India-EU Free Trade Agreement negotiations about ‘non-new goods’ (an euphemism for waste), which is expected to be concluded by the end of this year. Government of India has been ignoring Parliament of India in these matters. In a complete contrast on March 5, 2009, the European Parliament voted on 140 tabled amendments to the draft report on the FTA between India and the European Union (EU). Has Parliament in our country been given any such opportunity for instance, to take a considered view on hazardous waste trade? Meanwhile, the 1083 page India-Japan Free Trade Agreement legitimizes waste trade for good. Like Germany and UK, Japan too has been a consistent opponent of the Basel Convention.

The status of Ban Amendment to Basel Convention is the same as Kyoto Protocol is to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The Basel Convention is a global environmental treaty dealing with hazardous and other wastes. It has 178 members and aims to protect human health and the environment against the adverse effects of the generation, management, transboundary movements and disposal of hazardous and other wastes.

In the matter of trade obligations and commitments of generators of hazardous wastes is quite clear. It is a sad day for global environmental movement that at time when exporters, importers and waste processers have ganged up against human health and environment in collusion with UNEP, there is a disturbing silence from the NGOs of the richer countries in particular and donor driven NGOs of the poorer countries.

ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA) strongly disapproves of Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director at the Basel COP 10 meeting attempts to legitimize “moves forward in establishing a regime for countries who wish to trade in waste”, thereby dividing the world into those love trade in hazardous waste and those who do not and to create a “balance” between them.

Senior Advisory Group of Experts to the Executive Secretary of the Basel Convention Secretariat met from 18 to 19 January 2011 to subvert the definition of waste and turn it into non-waste in the name of exploring the economic potential of the extracting resources from waste. After the meet, the Basel Convention Secretariat and Ms. Katharina Kummer Peiry, Executive Secretary of the Basel Convention circulated a non-paper titled “SHIFTING PARADIGMS: FROM WASTE TO RESOURCES”. This appears to be a scandalous act that tantamount to an unpardonable environmental sin by Basel Convention Secretariat and United Nations Environment Programme under Executive Director, Achim Steiner. It was under the influence of hazardous waste traders that COP10 attempted to dedicate itself to the controversial theme of ‘recovery, of wastes’ in order to promote fake green business and dirty, degrading and dangerous job opportunities, while paying lip service to human health, livelihood, and the environment. The non-paper is attached.

Basel Convention Secretariat under Ms. Peiry and UNEP under Steiner’s leadership seems to have adopted regressive Lawrence Summers principle under the influence of countries like USA, Germany, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, South Korea and Japan in general and U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses, International Chamber of Commerce, US Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries and Bureau of International Recycling (BIR), the international trade federation representing the world’s recycling industry. These entities were opposed to principles of Basel Convention at least since 1992 when the treaty was adopted unlike India. Since Kamal Nath’s tenure as Union Environment Minister, later as Union Commerce Minister and now with Anand Sharma, as Union Commerce Minister there is been noticeable reversal in India’s position against public health and environment. Notably, in February 2002, the Supreme Court had fined the Ministry of Environment & Forests Rs.10, 000 for not having complied with its orders regarding the disappearance of hazardous waste oil from major ports in the country. Prior to that the court had ordered on May 5, 1997, "no authorisation or permission (for hazardous waste) would be given to any authority ... which has already been banned by the Union government or by any order made by any court or any other authority...(In addition to this) no import would be made or permitted … under the Basel Convention."

In such a backdrop, TWA welcomes the step of Parliament of Republic of Malta, a Southern European country which has approved the ratification of the amendment to the Basel Convention on the Control of Trans-Frontier Movements of Hazardous Waste on October 19, 2011. The amendment is aimed at prohibiting exports of hazardous waste to developing countries. TWA hopes that Parliament of India too will prevail on Government of India to ratify the Ban Amendment to prohibit hazardous waste trade that is being promoted by its Commerce Ministry under the undue influence of traders.

The Third meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP3) to the Convention in Geneva in September 1995 an Ban Amendment was adopted. This bans the export of hazardous wastes for final disposal and recycling from rich countries to poorer countries. This amendment was to enter into force following ratification by 62 parties as per Article 17 (5) of the Convention. The Ban Amendment has not entered into force despite the fact that 70 parties have ratified it because Basel Convention Secretariat appears to have surrendered under the influence of powerful hazardous waste traders. The parent treaty, the Basel Convention that adopted in 1989 entered into force on 5 May 1992 has been ratified by 175 countries.

It is quite sad that after acknowledging that “Trade in hazardous wastes has grown significantly between developing countries, a trend unforeseen when the Convention was adopted more than two decades ago”, UNEP and the Basel Convention Secretariat incorrectly state, “such trade is not addressed by the Ban Amendment, which was adopted in 1995 and has 70 Parties.” Both these agencies have failed in not putting the issue of a long-standing dispute over how to calculate the requisite number of ratifications needed which has defied resolution by consensus to vote. It is an act of dereliction of duty.

In a year prior to the 20th anniversary of the Rio Conference on Environment and Development and the 40th anniversary of the 1972 Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment, UNEP appears subservient to hazardous waste traders. The 5 -day UN meeting from 17 to 21 October 2011 in the city of Cartagena, Colombia concludes today. TWA had written to Ministry of Environment and Forests, Commerce and Steel Ministers to adopt its original position of 1992 articulated in Piriapolis, Uruguay in December 1992, by A. Bhattacharja, Head of the Indian delegation saying, "You industrial countries have been asking us to do many things for the global good -- to stop cutting down our forests, to stop using your CFCs. Now we are asking you to do something for the global good: keep your own waste." It is hoped that both Supreme Court and Parliament will act in time to set matters right before it is too late and ask the rich countries and their waste traders to keep their own waste, our own waste is too much to handle.

For Details: Gopal Krishna, Convener, ToxicsWatch Alliance, Mb: 9818089660, Web: toxicswatch.blogspot.com, www.basel.int

17/10/2011

Routine Deaths in Chittagong, Ships Owners Have Field Day

Note: South Asian beaches in Chittagong, Bangladesh, Gadani, Pakistan and Alang, India have seceded from their respective countries and have become the properties of rich ship owning companies and countries of US, Europe, Japan, Canada, Australia and China. These countries and their transnational shipping companies are in the process of writing the obituary of UN treaty, Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal at its Tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention (COP 10) during October 17-21 in CARTAGENA, Colombia. The theme of COP 10 “recovery of wastes” is anti-environment and human health.

Gopal Krishna
ToxicsWatch Alliance

span style="font-weight:bold;">4 dead, 40 taken ill in gas leaks

Oct 16th, 2011

Dhaka, Oct 16 (bdnews24.com) – Four people were dead and at least 40 taken ill in two separate incidents of gas leakage in the country.

In one incident, four workers died after inhaling poisonous gas in Chittagong when a docked ship was being gas-freed on Sunday evening in Giri Subedar Ship Breaking Yard.

Those dead were identified as Mir Kashem, 22, Nesar Uddin, 25, Younus, 23, and Gias Uddin, 25.

The yard in Bara Awlia area of the port city is owned by Lokman Hakim.

Two people were also reported to have fallen sick due to the gas and admitted to Chittagong Medical College Hospital, said medical police post sub-inspector Mohammad Zahirul Islam.

Shipyard general manager Mohammad Sekandar told bdnews24.com, "In the evening, many were taken ill making a ship gas-free."

But he denied any knowledge about four people dying in the incident.

Earlier in the day, at least 40 people, including 12 firemen, fell sick after a pipe of the chlorine unit of a chemical factory at Keraniganj leaked.

The pipe of the chlorine unit of Global Heavy Chemical Company Limited leaked around 9am on Sunday, South Keraniganj police chief Sakhawat Hossain told bdnews24.com.

"The situation is under control now," he added.

Fire brigade control room officer Nilufar Yasmin told bdnews24.com that the information fire fighters repaired the leak after around half an hour.

But many people including the fire fighters fell sick before the pipe was repaired.

They have been admitted to Sir Salimullah Medical College Hospital and Dhaka Medical College Hospital.

The police officer said owner of the chemical factory Sabur Khan could not be immediately reached for comment.

bdnews24.com/corr/kt/jk/ost/mc/mrh/nir/2240h

05/10/2011

Gulf Jash renamed Hua Feng

Sources have revealed that Gulf Jash (formerly Probo Koala) has been renamed Hua Feng on August 5, 2011 after being rejected by Bangladesh in June, 2011 under the former name Gulf Jash. The vessel steered back to Shanghai, was renamed Hua Feng. It is currently in Weda Bay near Buli, Indonesia as of 3 October, 2011. The vessel has been in Weda Bay since 4 September, 2011.