NEW DELHI (Reuters) - An Indian panel has violated guidelines for ship-breaking laid down by India's Supreme Court by approving the scrapping of a controversial Norwegian cruise liner this week, an environmental alliance said on Thursday.
The panel said the 46,000-metric ton cruise ship Blue Lady (formerly SS France and SS Norway), which environmentalists say contains hundreds of metric tons of asbestos and other toxic materials, could be broken down safely in the western Indian shipyard of Alang in Gujarat state.
"With regards to the illegal beaching which has been allowed, we will file an application to bring to the notice of the court how its orders have been flouted," said Gopala Krishana, coordinator for the NGO Platform on Shipbreaking. <snip>
Greenpeace says Indian shipyards like Alang lack new technology to safely handle toxic waste in ships they scrap. The group says Blue Lady contains at least 900 metric tons of asbestos.
A report by Greenpeace in December said thousands of workers in the ship-breaking industry in countries such as India, China and Pakistan may have died over the past two decades due to exposure to toxic waste or in accidents.
"The asbestos epidemic across the globe has led to over 40 countries having banned this killer fiber," the environmental alliance said on Thursday. "Turning a blind eye to such global developments exposes the callousness of the (Indian) ministry of environment. </snip>
The conditions for the workers in the Alang shipbreaking yards are horrific! Check out Greenpeace's site on the Alang scrap yards.
2. Her asbestos is deep within the engine room structures...
...and sealed up. The only way the asbestos would be a problem is if she were broken up in the way they break up ships in Alang (i.e. not carefully). Intact, the ship is perfectly safe.
There's an interesting backstory to all of this. NCL, and its parent company, Star Cruises, wants the ship broken up because they're trying to cover up their liability in the fatal boiler explosion in 2003 that killed several crew members. They have the option of selling the ship to a consortium based in Dubai that would safely remove any toxic substances and convert her into a hotel and convention center. But, NCL/Star Cruises sold the ship to the Alang breakers on the condition that they couldn't resell it to anyone else - that it HAD to be broken up or the breakers would suffer a $3 million penalty. So, she's heading for the beach at Alang, and those workers who break her up will likely be exposed to all that crap once they crack her open.
You're very fortunate to have sailed on SS France - she is one of the last great ocean liners.
Beaching of Blue Lady violates Court's order: Indian NGOs Rahul Kumar
04 August 2006 New Delhi, 3rd August 2006: High-level sources say that the inspection committee on Blue Lady was under intense pressure to give clearance to the vessel for beaching, as per the admissions by credible sources within Technical Committee on Ship-breaking.
The source that spoke on condition of anonymity referred to intense pressure from within the committee and by the ship-breaker to gloss over facts relevant to environment and safety practices at Alang. The source admitted that Alang does not have the capacity to handle any of the toxic substances known to be present in Blue Lady.
Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) is making a mockery of the environmental laws for illicit considerations. This was predicted even when the Technical Committee was formed because of its composition, which includes MoEF, Central Pollution Control Board and Gujarat Maritime Board who are respondents in the case.
Beaching permission, which has been granted to the toxic laden Blue Lady by the Technical Committee on Ship Breaking, is illegal on three counts. One, the Supreme Court allowed the entry of the ship in the Indian waters for anchoring on humanitarian grounds not for beaching with no equity on the owners. This permission was in pursuance of a submission made by Haryana Ship Demolitions Pvt Ltd. But the permission has been given to a new outfit called Priya Blue Shipping Pvt Ltd. This is in violation of the court order. </snip>
It would also violate the Basel Convention VII, which states that ships for scrap are waste. Several courts around the world including Netherlands, Turkey, Belgium and Norway have opined that ships for scrap containing hazardous material and the ones, which are not decontaminated, are hazardous waste.
The dismantling of Blue Lady if it happens would mean dismantling of the landmark judgment of October, 2003 that provided the mechanism for demolition, which was passed after 10 years of hearing by the current Chief Justice of India.
I had no idea this was happening. (At least I didn't use the bush excuse: "no one could have anticipated...") I truly appreciate reading about it. As much as I'm sad about her potential dismantling, I do worry about the human & environmental costs associated with this.
I hope this latest development will give wings to the plan to remove her asbestos (safely) and make her a hotel/convention center in Dubai (even though I will never go visit her there...) I'd love to know that her dignity & grandeur might be restored. She was truly a grand lady of the seas back in her day. (Every once in awhile, when I walk into a restaurant, I catch a whiff of the starched linen, french bread, & wine and I'm taken back to the S.S. France's great dining room... I know this is quite off the subject of the poor toxic laden Blue Lady & the troubles that she's causing right now, but she has a good soul for a ship.)
In fact, the Dubai group wants to turn her into a French cultural center (including renaming her SS France, and repainting the funnels back to her original black and red). This seems like a much-more fitting use for her than to cut her to bits, and giving hundreds of Alang workers cancer in the process...
You're making me relive my days & nights on that great ship. The smokestacks were so cool. One night, while my parents were at the Captain's Party, I made my way up to the smokestacks, next to the lights "FRANCE" (that you can just barely see between the two smokestacks). There, I saw the most magnificent sky I've ever seen -- one that I remember to this day, every time I look up at the stars on a clear night.
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