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Don’t allow beaching of toxic ship,says Centre

Action on the report of a technical team,the Centre has advised Gujarat not to allow the ‘beaching’ and breaking of...

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi/rajkot | November 10, 2009 5:12:13 am

Action on the report of a technical team,the Centre has advised Gujarat not to allow the ‘beaching’ and breaking of Platinum II,a discarded US ship currently anchored in Indian waters off Gujarat coastline waiting for permission to be broken at Alang ship-breaking yard.

In a letter to the Gujarat Maritime Board,the Ministry of Environment and Forests invoked the ‘precautionary principle’ — which entitles the government to prevent an activity from happening in case there is a possibility of its leading to pollution — to justify its decision. The ministry also asked the Gujarat Maritime Board to investigate allegations that the ship had been brought into India with a falsified flag and registry.

The ministry noted that the ship had violated the United States Toxic Substances Act and orders had already been issued by the US Environment Protection Agency against the owners.

“In the light of the facts,and in keeping with the precautionary principle,the Ministry of Environment and Forests is of the view that granting permission for beaching and breaking of the ship will not be advisable,” the letter said.

The technical report submitted last month had concluded that hazardous substances like asbestos containing material (ACM) and poly-chlorinated bi-phenyls (PCBs),apart from some radioactive material,were present in the structure of the ship — as was normal with any ship of this size — but no such material was found in loose form or as cargo.

The ship,originally belonging to the US but last registered in the Republic of Kiribati,had reached the Bhavnagar coast,towed by a tug,a month back and has been anchored off Gopnath coast,some 25 km from Alang. Owner Komalkant Sharma,who bought Plantinum II,refused to comment on the government’s decision.

The various state agencies,meanwhile,remained non-committal about the fate of the ship. The state Environment Ministry,the Gujarat Maritime Board and the Gujarat Pollution Control Board passed the buck regarding initiating action against the ship.

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