Ship from Spain carrying a lot of pain to Alang

NEW DELHI: A 38-year-old Spanish liquefied natural gas (LNG) ship, Laieta, is speeding up to reach an Indian ship breaking yard at Alang in Gujarat for getting reduced into scrap.

Sources said the vessel left her homeport at Barcelona without cleansing herself of the toxic material before she is put to bleaching in India. Laieta has approximately 1,200 metric tonnes of asbestos on it besides others toxins and heavy metals.

The export of hazardous waste-laden ships for demolition is prohibited under the Basel Convention, an international treaty designed to reduce the movements of hazardous waste between nations, and specifically to prevent transfer of hazardous waste from developed to less developed countries.

"The departure of the vessel without pre-cleaning in the country of export is illegal under the international law, European law and under the Indian domestic law," says Gopal Krishna of Ban Asbestos Network of India.

According to sources, about 90-odd ships are languishing at Alang junkyard seeking permission from the supreme court of India where the matter is sub judice. Last year, the court directed that the ships, which are brought in for breaking in India, must not carry any toxic material.

The world LNG tanker fleet consisted of 254 vessels at the end of 2007. Laieta, which did not unload any cargo during the year, is part of a series of four twins commissioned for transporting natural gas from Libya to Italy and Spain.

She was put up for scrap sale as shipping market conditions created tough times for some of the world's older and smaller LNG vessels. But when the ship lay idle for about 18 months, it was sailed off to get reduced into scrap.

Rakesh Bhatnagar

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


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