Monday, February 22, 2010

Saga Of Toxic Waste Ship Continues

Platinum ll Case may Change Indian Vessel Scrapping Rules
Shipping News Feature

INDIA – The continuing row over the Platinum ll, a ship which arrived with the most tenuous of cover stories when it arrived on the beaches at Alang for scrapping lingers on. Now, despite a Supreme Court order to turn the vessel away the Government have ordered the Gujarat Maritime Board to explain why the vessel was accepted for destruction at the notorious site, one of the sites subject of our report in December, and the case may change the rules for accepting the plethora of passenger liners, cargo and container vessels and bulk and oil tankers which are crashed onto the beaches.

The history of this case has been fully covered in our earlier articles but the problem which has arisen is now touted as one of definition. Despite suspicions that the vessel was polluted by noxious substances, dangerous to anyone dismantling her, and the Supreme Court’s ruling that all toxic materials must be offloaded at their point of origin before shipping to India, the local authorities seemingly designated the vessel as a wreck which relieved it of its status as a viable vessel and therefore was basically subject to salvage.

Now environmental groups are raising the pressure to have all vessels entering Indian waters declare the purpose of their visit prior to anchoring. Currently a ship can arrive uninspected and simply be grounded ashore prior to any formal enquiry into her status or contents. The ship breaking yards in the area of Bhavnagar carry great political clout and it will require an intense and prolonged campaign to regularise the industry.

To see our previous article on the dangerous and dubious practice of ship breaking – including links to video footage of ships being grounded see here.