Showing posts from February, 2008

Dubious asbestos & PCBs laden ship under scanner

Note: US Toxic Ship SS Independence (aka SS Oceanic) owned by Star Cruise, Blue Lady owner left from San Francisco toward Singapore in breach of US and international laws. The violations occurred on 8th February, 2008. SS Independence contains large quantities of hazardous materials such as toxic polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and lung-damaging asbestos, the export and import of which are prohibited under the laws of the United States and Singapore. After looking into the reportedly-toxic ship formerly known as the S.S. Independence coming into Guam,a US territory 3700 miles southwest of Hawaii, US. Coast Guard Lieutenant Marcus Hirschberg says, it will be a few weeks before the ship, since renamed "The Oceanic", is expected to approach our island. Hirschberg says at this point it does not look like the vessel will be coming into Apra Harbor. The vessel towing The Oceanic, the Pacific Hickory may come in for refueling. In that case, another tugboat would hold onto the ocea

SS Oceanic poses threat to health & environment

The former U.S.-flag liner SS Oceanic (formerly SS Independence) poses any toxic threat to Guam. The ship left San Francisco on February 8 under tow for scrapping in India. The move has not pleased the Basel Action Network, an environmental group concerned about the export of toxic ships and has also upset preservationists who would like to see the U.S. the National Historic Preservation Act used to prevent its being scrapped. USEPA has concern about a "potential legal risk" of export violation under the U.S. Toxic Substances Control Act. Alert for toxic ship THE U.S. Coast Guard and the Guam Environmental Protection Agency are on alert for the possible arrival of the contaminated cruise liner, SS Independence, which is reportedly heading to Guam after being refused entry in Hawaii. “In order for the vessel to come to Guam, they have to send a request for entry. And if they were to request entry, they have to file a 96-hour notice of arrival. They still have four days to


Rio Declaration also talks about prior knowledge in trans-boundary movements. However, a ship “Blue Lady” was allowed[13] without prior decontamination. The ship contains 1250 MT (approx.) asbestos waste, 10 MT (approx.) of PCB (Poly-chloro-biphenyl) plus 44,000 meters of cables and 1100 radio-active elements. This quantity is many times higher than the French ship Clemenceau which was recalled by the French Government. In justification, the Supreme Court has referred to the concept of “balance” under the principle of “proportionality”, a doctrine which is totally alien to the environmental matters. DEVELOPMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL LAW: A CRITICAL APPRAISAL - Sanjay Parikh It is necessary - before we discuss the development of Environmental Law by our Courts, in particular, the Supreme Court – that we have a brief look at the international developments on environment. Broadly, it started with Stockholm Declaration commonly known as “Declaration of the UN Conference on Human Environment

Shipbreaking said to fund terrorism?

India is a growing market for secondary commodities like ferrous scrap and scrap metal. Ship-breaking industry is part of the scrap metal trade. India represents an emerging market for scrap materials. India imports a high percentage of the scrap material it requires, particularly in aluminum, copper and stainless steel. Many of the old ships bound for salvage and disposal are exported to the Indian subcontinent. In South Asia, ship-breaking takes place in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The workers in this industry are the most vulnerable workforce in the world with high rate of chemical and asbestos exposure. In India, Alang ship-breaking yard is located in Bhavnagar, Gujarat. It is located 288 km northwest of Mumbai. The first vessel – MV KOTA TENJONG was beached at Alang on 13th Feb. 1983. Since then, the yard has witnessed spectacular growth and has emerged as a leading ship Breaking Yard in the world. There are 173 plots to carry out the ship-breaking activities. It provides a

USEPA called on to Stop Illegal Departure of Toxic Ocean Liner in Hawaii

Historic SS Independence loaded with PCBs and asbestos to be scrapped On February 22, 2008, a 682 foot ocean liner known as the SS Independence loaded with an estimated 210 tons of toxic polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and 250 tons of deadly asbestos as part of its construction, will be towed into Hawaiian waters so that the ocean going tug Pacific Hickory, hauling it can refuel on its way to Asia.[1] The ship has become the latest test case in the international furor against the environmental and human rights abuses caused by shipbreaking practices and the rapid disappearance of our last classic ocean liners. SS Independence has been renamed a SS Oceanic. According to the Basel Action Network (BAN) and Save the Classic Liners Campaign, the export of the 1950 classic ship, recently owned by Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL), a subsidiary of Star Cruise Ltd and mothballed in San Francisco Bay, is illegal. Its quiet departure from San Francisco Bay for the stated destination of Singapore

Submission to 57th session of IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC)

Submission to the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) on draft International Convention for Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships RECYCLING OF SHIPS Substitution, internalising costs, third party auditing and rejection of non-party trade needed to secure an effective Convention Submitted by Greenpeace International and FOEI Summary Executive Summary This document represents an appeal from civil society environmental and human rights organisations represented by the NGO Platform on Shipbreaking to the member states of the IMO to recognise that the current draft International Convention for Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships lacks the mechanisms and incentives to seriously address the disastrous status quo that is ship recycling today. While the structure of the Convention is built upon a shaky foundation of Parties lacking self-interest to ratify or implement it, with minimal responsibility placed on ship builders and owners, it is neverthele

Oceanic (Indpendence) on a mysterious voyage

SS Independence renamed SS Oceanic was sold by Norwegian Cruise Line(NCL), the ship's last owner in 2007. NCL has refused this week to say who the new owner is. The Independence measured 683 feet in length and weighed 26,000 tons. It was capable of cruising at 26 knots. It accommodated 1,000 passengers, and was designed to accommodate 5,000 soldiers during wartime. According to Life magazine, "It will house passengers in Henry Dreyfuss-designed cabins, apartments, and 'penthouses,' keep their shipboard spirits up with branches of Fifth Avenue shops, handsome public rooms and bars decorated with old tattoo designs, collections of ships in bottles and Early American silver. Late American devices include 125 feet of picture windows in the observation lounge, polarized glass in portholes to control light and glare, and bedside telephones from which a passenger can phone anyone within 5,000 miles." Oceanic is the last US built ocean liner to sail under the American fla

Ship owners liability escapes IMO Chief's attention

IMO callous towards Alang's enviro-Occupational health concerns IMO’s new recycling norms will include regulations for the design, construction, operation and preparation (for breaking) of ships Mumbai: India’s ship-breaking yard at Alang in Gujarat, Asia’s largest, will not have to make any major changes to comply with the proposed ship recycling regulations that are expected to be finalized in 2009, the top official of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) said in an interview. “The new regime governing ship recycling in India, as recently decreed by the country’s Supreme Court, is remarkably similar to the requirements of the draft text of the new IMO Convention,” said Efthimios E. Mitropoulos, secretary general of IMO. The Supreme Court’s order says that no ship can be beached at Alang unless it is certified “safe” by the concerned authority. Mint reported on 25 January that 53 ships had beached there in violation of this order that was passed in September 2007. However

'Dead ships' a security threat too?

D-Company Hand in Most Ship-Breaking Deals in Alang, May Be Route To Land Contraband: Intelligence Report NEW DELHI: The 'dead ships' coming to India under flags of convenience are not only an environmental threat but also pose a threat to India's maritime security. A confidential report of the naval intelligence has pointed out that the D-gang is involved in most of the deals going around in the shipbreaking business. TOI had earlier reported on shipowners in OECD countries using small countries like Liberia and Tuvalu to circumvent international laws that prevent them from sending ships loaded with dangerous chemicals for dismantling to developing countries, such as India. The intelligence report has raised the issue of security threat arising from unregulated shipbreaking in India. "The high stakes of profit margin, cheap labour, corrupt practices and a large floating population have made labour settlement at Alang (the biggest Asian shipbreaking yard, based in Guja

India dumping ground for toxic waste

NEW DELHI: On the face of it, India is getting hazardous chemical-loaded ships for dismantling from obscure countries such as Comoros, a small island nation in Indian Ocean. But scratch the surface and it appears that these small countries are a front for rich nations to send their dirty cargo ships to India. The poor countries come handy for countries like Germany and Greece to circumvent international laws. The catch being that international laws prevent 'the rich' from shipping their hazardous waste directly to India. 'The poor' are not barred from dealing in this lucrative international scrap trade with another 'poor country'. On record, India has got ships from countries like Bermuda, Panama and even land-locked Mongolia to dismantle at Asia's biggest ship breaking yard, Alang. The latest in the list is the "Al Arabia" alias "Beni Ansar" alias "Aquaba Express" that beached at India in October 2007 despite warnings from t

India ahead of IMO on ship recycling norms

Note: The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) meeting in Nantes, France during 21-25 January 2008 had no Indian delegates. But the news report dated 28th January, 2008 does illustrate the Indian position. IMO is developing the International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships. At the fifty-sixth session of IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee, the draft Convention was discussed. The Convention excludes government owned ships on non-commercial service and it willmost probably also exclude ships engaged solely in domestic voyages. A paper presented at International Symposium on Maritime Safety, Security & Environmental Protection, Athens, September 2007 that probed the question what is the average age of recycled ships. If for example the average age of recycled ships is 30 years and there are 95,000 ships over 100 GT in the world fleet, it could be estimated that the average future recycling demand would be around 3,100-3,200 sh