Platinum II,which is awaiting beaching permission for Alang for over a month now,has been mired in another fresh controversy,this time over producing fake registry documents of the Republic of Kiribati. This was apparently done to get away with the dismantling of the toxic-laden US ship in India,keeping authorities of both countries in the dark.
In a written communiqué to environmental activists,the official registry of Kiribati has said that the paper filed with Indian authorities is fake.
The Indian Platform for Ship Breaking (IPSB),which had opposed beaching permission to Platinum II and had brought the issue to the notice of Union Environment and Forest Minister Jairam Ramesh,had said the ship has a US registry,which bans exports of PCB contained vessels for disposal to other countries.
An email from Lia Siew Leng,Operation Manager,Kiribati Registry,said: The Ministry of Communications,Transport & Tourism Development,Government of Kiribati,has confirmed that the attached Platinum II certificate is definitely a fake. Perhaps,the Indian authorities can contact us to investigate this matter.
The Report of the Central Technical Team constituted by the Ministry of Environment & Forests on the inspection of Platinum II,said: The ship does not have any national flag though the US flag was found painted on the chimney. The ship is of 1951 make and its original name was SS Independence. It was registered in the US. The name has undergone changes thereafter and its present name is Platinum II as registered in the Republic of Kiribati in September 2009 in the name of M/s Platinum Investment Services Corporation at 80,Broad Street,Monrovia,Liberia.
Gopal Krishna of IPSB said: It is clear that two laws have been violated the US Maritime Law and the Indian Maritime Law. It is illegal for a ship to be brought to India on a false flag and registry.
In January,the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) had fined Global Shipping LLC and Global Shipping Marketing Systems Inc for export of SS Independence for disposal. Around February 8,2008,the ship was towed out of US territorial waters.
USEPA alleged that Global Shipping LLC and its affiliated company Global Marketing Systems,Inc. worked together to export SS Independence (later also known as SS Oceanic) for disposal outside the US,a violation of Federal laws. Global had not informed the EPA of their intention to export the ship for disposal, said Krishna.
According to IPSB,the fake documents have been possibly produced to get away with the dismantling and since the ship owners did not want to notify and get permission from the US to re-flag.
Environmentalists said the ships arrival in India was in violation of the Basel Convention to which India is a party. Under the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) treaty,India is not allowed to receive hazardous waste from the US. Nor can it receive hazardous waste from any foreign source without prior notification of arrival and consent from the Indian government.
But no such notification or consent was provided in advance of the sudden arrival of the toxic ship. Further,the ships arrival violated the Supreme Court orders of October 14,2003 and September 6,2007,which calls for the pre-cleaning of ships of all toxic substances prior to their import for dismantling.