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Review papers had cleared the deck for controversial US ship

Controversial US ship Oriental Nicety,formerly known as Exxon Valdez,has no hazardous waste onboard in loose form,according to the desk review documents submitted by a shipping agency to various state bodies,including Gujarat Maritime Board.

Written by Adam Halliday | Ahmedabad | Published: June 14, 2012 5:33:06 am

Controversial US ship Oriental Nicety,formerly known as Exxon Valdez,has no hazardous waste onboard in loose form,according to the desk review documents submitted by a shipping agency to various state bodies,including Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB).

Some hazardous materials — asbestos,glasswool,ply and asbestos containing material (ACM) — may be found as insulating material in the ship’s engine and boiler areas and some cabins and walls,stated the documents of Shreeji Shipping accessed by The Indian Express.

Such inbuilt materials are allowed by the Indian authorities as per rules framed under the Supreme Court’s 2007 order on ship-breaking.

Besides GMB,the documents were submitted to the Gujarat Pollution Control Board and the Customs department before the ship was denied permission to dock at Alang early this year.

The documents state there are two ballast tanks,seven tanks of furnace oil,three tanks of marine gasoline oil (diesel) and seven tanks of lubricating oil. Various kinds of acids,chemicals,paints,greases and gases are also present onboard.

The quantities of these are yet to be ascertained,and would anyway make little difference since they are part of the vessel and crew’s requirements.

To a section which asks “whether any hazardous waste found in loose form onboard”,the documents state “NIL”.

Authorities looking after Alang,where the US-built ship was headed for dismantling,had denied permission to the vessel to anchor in the first week of May,saying the matter was sub-judice.

Later,a vacation bench of the SC also refused to grant the ship permission to anchor although owners argued there was no hazardous material onboard.

The court was hearing a PIL on implementation of the Basel Convention by activist Gopal Krishna of Toxics Watch Alliance,who reportedly told the court that “the ship,which is alleged to be contaminated,has entered Indian waters without taking proper steps for decontamination in the port of export”.

The two-judge SC bench preferred a response from the Ministry of Shipping and Transport before passing an order,and the next hearing is scheduled for August 18.

Since then,the 288m-long ship is believed to have been floating somewhere off India’s north-western coast with a 15-member crew,which the documents say are all Indians — four from Punjab,three each from Maharashtra,Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal,with one crew member each hailing from Kerala,Tamil Nadu and J&K.

In one of the world’s worst environment disasters,the Exxon Valdez had spilled an estimated 2.5 lakh barrels of crude oil off the Alaskan coast in 1989.

The 27-year-old ship (gross tonnage 1,12,088) has changed names at least seven times and hoisted at least four flags (US,Marshall Islands,Panama and Sierra Leone) since then,and is currently known as M V Oriental N,an ore carrier.

It is currently owned by Best Oasis Ltd,a part of the Bhavnagar-based Priya Blue Group.

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