Clemenceau to be dismantled in UK
London: The asbestos-contaminated obsolete French aircraft carrier Clemenceau. Whose entry into India for dismantling was once blocked, will be finally broken up in the U.K after being kicked around like a football for fear of exposure to toxic waste.
The French Defence Ministry said the toxic-laden warship will be broken up by a company called Able UK whose shipyard is in the north-east of Britain.
The controversial ship with an estimated 22 tonnes of toxic material,which no foreign country was willing to dismantle, had nearly overshadowed French President Jacques Chirac's visit to India in 2006.
The 27,000 tonne warship, which was once a proud symbol of France's naval might, was the target of environment groups like Greenpeace and anti-asbestos groups like Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI)when it set sail in 2005 to Alang in Gujarat, home to the world's largest shipbreaking yard. It was decommissioned in 1997.
Named after France's World War I prime minister Georges Clemenceau, the ship was a subject of protracted legal battles in Supreme Court in India as well as in Europe.
The Clemenceau is currently docked in the north-western French port of Brest, where it returned a year ago after an embarrassing saga that saw it towed as close to India in a bid to find a company to dismantle it.
Its return to France was hailed as a major victory by environmentalist groups, who had fought tooth and nail to block its transfer to Alang.
The French Defence ministry said five companies had bid for the new contract to break it up.
Britain and France must draw up a "cross-border transfer authorisation," a procedure which will take a few weeks and after which the ship will be able to leave Brest, the ministry said.