Entry of ex US ship Oriental Nicety (ex Exxon Valdez) in Indian waters not permissible without prior decontamination
Ministry of Defence Should Probe Hazardous Wastes Trade & Movement of End-of-Life Ships in Indian wasters
New Delhi 4/05/2012:
Justice Altamas Kabir headed Supreme Court’s bench heard the application against a US hazardous end-of-life vessel named ‘Oriental Nicety’ (formerly Exxon Valdez, Exxon Mediterranean, Sea River Mediterranean, S/R Mediterranean, Mediterranean, and Dong Fang Ocean) that has been purchased by Best Oasis Company, (a subsidiary of Priya Blue Industries Pvt Ltd) based in Bhavnagar, Gujarat on May 3, 2012. The court observed that without the prior decontamination of the ships in the country of export, no dead ship including ‘Oriental Nicety’ (formerly Exxon Valdez) can be allowed entry in Indian waters.
This is a dead ship for dumping in the Indian waters in the name of dismantling and recycling. This is a second such ship originally from USA that is outwitting Indian laws. The USA’s regulations and European Union regulations prohibit the entry of such vessels. There are 173 plots to carry out the ship-breaking activities for secondary steel retrieval on the Alang beach under the supervision of Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB), which has no competence in such industrial processes.
While a total of 5924 end-of-life ships were permitted between 1982 and 2012, there is no data available as to the quantity of hazardous wastes which has been dumped. How much PCBs, PCTs, asbestos wastes, radioactive and other hazardous materials have come to the country, is not known. How many workers, villagers have been affected and the extent and enormity of contamination of Alang beach is also not known. It is not understood how the ship breaking activities is continuing when there is no landfill facility available. Obviously, illegal dumping of hazardous wastes is going on, which is totally illegal.
It is noteworthy that actions and agencies identified by Court constituted Inter-ministerial committee (IMC) on shipbreaking in the pursuance of eighteen recommendations of Prof M G K Menon headed High Power Committee that were accepted by the Court has not been complied with. The minutes of IMC repeatedly underline security concerns. The annexed document underlines the need for Ministry of Defence to probe Hazardous Wastes Trade and movement of end-of-life ships in Indian wasters. The application has sought direction for compliance.
Following the last IMC meeting this year Directorate General Factory Advice Service & Labour Institutes (DGFASLI), Union Ministry of Labour has been asked to conduct a radiology study on the impact of glass wool on the respiratory health of migrant workers at the shipbreaking yards at Alang beach. At present there are no mandatory guidelines for disposal of the glass wool, PCBs and asbestos which is used mainly as insulators in ships. Some 16 % of workers were found exposed to carcinogenic asbestos fibers as per the study of National Institute of Occupational Health, Ahmedabad. They were identified but they have not been compensated or provided medical and legal remedy till date.
The application has pointed out how even without examining theinventory of hazardous wastes and materials on board the end-of-life ship ‘Oriental Nicety’, local authorities who have not complied with the recommendations of IMC on shipbreaking like Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) and Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) have given it a clean chit to it. This 301 meters long tanker is 50 meters wide, 26 meters depth, weighing 30,000 tons empty and powered by a 23.60 MW diesel engine. US based National Steel and Shipbuilding Company built this tanker for Exxon Mobil Corporation, a US multinational oil and gas corporation and a direct descendant of John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company. It was built in San Diego, California in 1986.
ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA) appeals to Parliamentarians and concerned ministries 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.